Florida painter, Everglades, Marco Island, artist Jo-Ann Sanborn


The Gambia

There had been no formal welcome in our previous ports, but as the ship drew near the dock into Banjul, The Gambia, we were drawn to the rail by the beat of native drums. A trio of vividly costumed African dance groups accompaniedy by a bevy of drummers put on a terrific competition made us feel most welcome.

Also on the dock were stalls of quite a few local merchants, showing a wide variety of handmade arts and crafts. Much of the two-dimensional paintings were sand painting, seemingly made for the tourist trade, somewhat flat and not reflective of the lively community. The quality of the three-dimensional work was much better, with some fine examples of hand carved animals and figures of native wood.
I was particularly interested in fabrics, because this part of Africa is know for batiks, but on the dock I found a lot of tie-dye, but only one batik dealer. I am not good at bargaining, uncomfortable asking to pay less when these people seem to have so little, but eventually purchased the piece above. My batik depicts the life of the Gambians dying cloth, and I will hand stitch the edges and make a wall hanging of it.
The Albert Marketplace was a short shuttle bus ride away. Leaving the sunny street we went deep into a dank warren of vendor stalls, and found where the locals buy their goods, including native food and grains, shoes, a fish market, and exotic spice smells from small charcoal braziers in a restaurant area.
Of particular interest was an area dedicated to the tailoring of colorful local clothing. Men sat at a variety of pedal driven sewing machines while their assistants measured people for their hand tailored vividly colored garments. In comparison, it seems as though our lives are cellophane wrapped and sterile.

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