Afrique Geometrique..

adinkra symbols
Adinkra symbols

I have an interest in African geometry, especially in printed fabrics, wood carvings and metal work.
Whilst studying for my environmental biology degree (many years ago!!) I took up batik fabric printing and made cushions and wall hangings using African patterns.
More recently I’ve been visiting the British Museum in london to explore the African galleries, here is one of the videos I shot there, (it also contains imagery from the Horniman Museum in South London)

Last christmas I made zippered pouches as presents using South African Shweshwe fabric and batik


Shweshwe fabric was originally manufactured in the UK using an acid discharge printing technique developed by Gustav Deutsch
The patterns proved popular in Africa so when the Lancashire based manufacturer ceased production in the UK, the operation moved to Cape Town and it is now known by the popular brand name Three Cats

I also have an interest in Adinkra symbols and have used them in much of my artwork including this highly stylised painting of a rhubarb leaf and Adinkra symbols

Rhubarb Leaf and Adinkra symbol
Rhubarb Leaf and Adinkra symbol

Adinkras were used as a form of written communication in West Africa during the 1800’s, the geometric shapes express and symbolise various sayings and proverbs.

Another fascinating example of African geometry can be be found via this Ted Talk about African Fractals in buildings and braids by Ron Eglash the author of a book with the same name.

He studied aerial photographs of African settlements and found that some were built around complex fractal geometric shapes, many of which were considered sacred by the villagers.

The talk then goes on to explain how other symbolic traditions could have led to the development of the first form of binary used in computer engineering.

It really is a fascinating talk!!

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