The art of craft: art inspired by Ghanaian culture

Heart Beats and States, is a collection coming soon by Amma Gyan from Amanartis, that has been inspired by the rich history and craft of weaving that stems from the Ashanti people in Ghana…

Blue fabric on sofa

Textile artist Amma Gyan from Amanartis has a story to share with the design community. It’s one about colour, texture, fashion and materials and is told through the upcoming Heart Beats and States art collection. “As a child my art looked like handmade miniature clothes, this turned into still life drawings and photography in my teens and early twenties,” says Gyan when asked about what inspired the design of the pieces. “Throughout it all was a love of textiles.”

Colour, pattern, texture – a mischievous sense of excitement would takeover Gyan’s senses when her mother would return home with sacks of remnant fabrics, gathered from the factory she worked in, when items were still made in London – she was a dressmaker in Ghana before her family moved to the UK. If being a creature of your environment is to be believed, then Gyan’s path was, perhaps, always going to be around working with fabrics. “I began creating wall hangings almost 10 years ago, inspired by the same exuberating excitement felt as a child – the detail in fabric, from the soft iridescent frayed edge of Dupion Silk, to the etherial quality of Tulle – this was my medium.,” she said. “Creating wall hangings as a form of art, also provided a moment of stillness and calm, each twist and turn determined by the moment, the subconscious thoughts and distractions that often showed up in the tension of the piece.  A story could be told by the simple yet considered attention to detail placed when combining different fabrics.”

In recent years, Gyan has taken to researching her Ghanaian heritage; the rich history of weaving that stems from the Ashanti people, her ancestral tribe, seemed to be deep within her – a connection unrealised until it appeared in her creative expression. Bold colours and geometric shapes formed a language that was literally used to tell a story. A sequence of rows and lines conveyed the tribe, their status and their leader. “Holding on to this tradition, my creations are a way of drawing with the fabric, creating lines and waves that connect with the heart and a moment in time,” she added.

A visually impactful and abstract way of interpreting emotion through fabric and sculpture is the focus of Gyan’s current work, culminating in a new exhibition planned for spring 2024. Creating art that depicts the subtle sensibilities of our mood through the combination of fabrics and mixed mediums is, as she puts it, “an exciting project that opens up the topic of how our emotions are represented.”

Heart Beats and States, expected to be available from Spring 2024, has been born out of that vision. “It looked like a pile of rags,” she added, “but what I saw was a palette, a series of emotions in the form of colour and texture.”

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Main image credit: Amanartis