Recently, two members of our creative team ventured out to Western Africa to the Gulf of Guinea, Ghana. Ghana is famously known for its diverse wildlife, secluded beaches, gold, chocolate and of course, its vibrant music and culture. Sophie and Becky’s creative designs were brought to a local community in Ghana, in the Volta region which was part of a non-profit festival, Meet me There Weekender with an aim to raise money for the neighbouring communities. We interviewed the ladies to find out more details on their exciting adventure.
Why did you go to Ghana?
A very good friend of mine Charlie French went out to Ghana around two years ago to volunteer at a Non Profit eco lodge in the Volta region of Ghana and completely fell in love with it. The Eco Lodge had been running an annual Easter festival for the local community for a number of years previously. When Charlie got together with the owner of the lodge, Dougal, they saw an opportunity to make the festival a global operation where they could raise money to put back into the community.
Meet Me There African Home Lodge is linked with registered charity and NGO, Dream Big Ghana. The mission of Dream Big Ghana NGO is to work within the village communities of Dzita and Agbledomi on sanitation, healthcare, education, youth sports and development projects. The NGO provides practical volunteering opportunities for people from the UK and elsewhere. It also organises elective placements for health care students. Money raised from the festival which will become a yearly event, is directly invested back into the community in Ghana. The festival raised £6300 in total this year which went directly back into the community. This particular fundraiser was to fund compost toilet blocks for a local school.
So how did you get involved in this project?
About 3 years ago, Charlie and I started up an Afro influenced music night in London called Bood’nBone with help from a few friends. We all pooled resources to create the nights. Music, lighting, sound and art. We would pick a different charity each time and direct all of the profits to them. I would do the artwork for the posters and Charlie and his brother Harry (who play under the name Bood’nBone) would do the music. When I heard about the festival, it was an obvious and natural progression from this, to helping paint the artwork at the festival. It was very easy to convince Sophie to come and join me and work on it together.
What was the brief that they gave you?
Initially they wanted us to paint the Meet Me There logo on the back of the stage, but when Sophie and I got together and creative ideas started flowing, we suggested we could do something a little more fun, which thankfully they were excited and open to. So we came up with our own concept and brought it to them.
What was your inspiration behind the piece?
We knew we wanted to paint a text based piece as it combined both of our interests. Deciding on the words “Dream Big”, we began by starting a pinterest board of African patterns, shapes and fabrics. This inspired us to create a typeface out of shapes, which was influenced by the designs found on the beautiful, bright fabrics found in and around Ghana.
What was the region like? Tell us a little bit about the local area
So we were staying around three hours out of Accra which is the capital of Ghana so it’s a very rural area. The village we were in is situated in a coastal area and the eco lodge is set just back from the sea. Like many parts of Ghana, it is a poor area. The Eco Lodge is actually run all year round by Dougal and his wonderful team at Meet Me There Lodge. The lodge really supports a lot of the local community in a huge number of ways. Helping improve the sanitation of the local area is a massive part of their work. They also have an amazing community learning centre that runs after classes and workshops and has a range of great and inspiring books for children and adults alike, all written by African authors. The education system in Ghana involves a lot of blackboard learning and repetitive writing, they don’t have access to books, pens, instruments etc so the community centre is such a great place for the kids. It’s full of resources for them to use and has been going on for around two years. It’s just got such an amazing sense of community around there, everyone really looks after each other.
What was the festival itself like?
The festival ran from the 15th to the 19th of March 2018. We arrived a few days early to paint. On the first day of the festival they had a welcome party for everyone from over seas. As its first year, it was a great mixture of friends, old and new, family and people who had been to the Bood’n bone nights back in London! As well as travellers, returning volunteers and the Dj’s and musicians programmed for the event. For over seas residents the festival charged £50 for the four days and it was only £1 for the locals which is the cost of a local beer. Out of the four days of the festival the Saturday was specifically programmed for the locals, they put on big Ghanaian acts that were really popular amongst the locals. Dj’s also came over from the UK to perform. In terms of the programming, a typical day would start off with a delicious spread of breakfasts including home made granola and pancakes cooked by Justine and her wonderful kitchen team. Followed by a boat tour or workshop, whether that be drumming, Batik or a beach clean. They also included sanitation tours and cover exactly what the organisation does for the community. At midday the festival site would open and the local school would welcome the festival goers with a cultural performance. Lunch is then served and the music would begin. Dancing in the sun, playing games with the local kids, sipping on cocktails and swimming in the lagoon.
We will definitely be traveling back next year to paint and enjoy the festival again. Once you have been to Meet Me There Weekender once, you feel like you have discovered this amazing secret you will always want to be a part of.
The next Bood’n Bone X MMT fundraiser night will be held on the 29th September at the Tram depot in Clapton, London.
There is a limited capacity but you can find tickets here: http://Bit.ly/mmtfundraiser
Tickets for next years festival can also be bought here:
We hope to see you there!