Milan-based Laura Paglieri, a.k.a. AfricaAtelier, was born and raised in Kenya, where she began collecting and researching antique trade beads and has recently launched her first collection made with these unique finds.
As the FIFA World Cup (football — that’s “soccer” for the Americans!) kicks off today in South Africa, the eyes of the world are on the African continent and it’s time to celebrate what it has to offer. Look beyond the safaris or coffee and you’ll find a vibrantly diverse place with a wealth of arts, crafts and music born from a very strong cultural heritage. Follow me on my journey through the continent by sampling some of my inspirations and discovering the Etsians who are bringing Africa to the forefront.
Bamako High Society: Seydou Keïta in Mali
Image via Ego Design
The African style captured by Seydou Keïta, one of the most celebrated West African photographers, is a depiction of Africa we don’t often see. Keïta portrays the society of his native Bamako, Mali during its independence in the 1950s with all its opulence and flair.
This colourful African Wax Print Bustle Gown by ChopstixWaits has such elegant lines. AfriqueLaChic’s Crystal Wrap Bracelet adds an all-important touch of sparkling glamour, while Growth And Patience Necklace by PeaceImages is both earthy and opulent. LesEnfantsSauvages’s Summer Skirt in African cotton echoes the refined yet bold style in Keïta’s photography.
Bombastic: Kehinde Wiley’s LA/Africa Fusion
Image via Kehinde Wiley
On a more contemporary note, here is true sensory overload or, in the words of Los Angeles based visual artist, Kehinde Wiley, “operatic bombastitude.” His portraits of African-American men blur the boundaries between traditional and contemporary, fusing heroic portrait style with African textile design. This echoes contemporary Africa at its best, vibrant and proud. Here are some Etsians that are also mixing up the traditional African with a modern twist.
Rajulparis‘s African Printed Snood captures Wiley’s strong graphic style and I can imagine one of his subjects wearing this bombastic Cotton Cycling Cap by weststarland. This oversized On Wax Cocktail Ring by PeaceImages is so vibrant and alive that it might just pop right out of your computer screen, and AfricanStreetCouture‘s Eco Friendly Driving Hat is so very dapper.
Kaleidoscope Africa: Samuel Fosso’s Nigeria/Cameroon
Image via art me africa
Samuel Fosso, another prominent African photographer from the 1970s, is one of my inspirations and is really representative of West Africa’s love of color and rich textiles. His kaleidoscopic style is true genius!
For a subtle touch, check out this fabulous Four Bangle Bracelet with African textile patterns by designforest. Lulunyeusi from Zanzibar makes incredible traditional African outfits with wax cloth like this Nollywood Starlet Outfit. A Handmade Tote Bag made with textiles from Ghana by DellaLA would look wonderful paired with summer denim, and FunkyDada‘s African Print Throw Pillow Cover is a dynamic accent piece for your home.
African Journals: Peter Beard in Kenya
Image via Peter Beard
I’ve been a fan of Peter Beard‘s photos and journals of Africa for years. To me his pictures show the raw beauty of this great continent as well as the power and vulnerability of nature and the wildlife that inhabits it.
CrowBiz‘s Giraffe Print on vintage French text captures our tall friend’s poise so beautifully, while Majestic Photography Print by arutherford describes the same romantic and powerful nature as portrayed by Beard. Antiqued Brass Elephant Necklace by chrysdesignsjewelry makes an utterly charming and unique addition to your jewellery collection. And last but by no means least, I challenge you not to desire a cuddle with Giggletree‘s Zebra Soft Toy, handmade in South Africa.
A big thanks to Laura for sharing her African inspiration and Etsy picks with us as the World Cup kicks off! Find some of her beautiful African bead jewellery creations in the Seller’s Items below.