Bolgatanga, one of the most remote towns in Ghana, was the location chosen to develop the PET Lamp 2019 project.
In the heart of the Upper East Region and just a few kilometres from Burkina Faso, Bolgatanga is known as the “city of baskets” and is also the capital of the Gurunsi people, who have lived and controlled this territory along with small parts of southern Burkina Faso and northwest Togo, for centuries.
The importance given to basket weaving in this territory is one of the main reasons why we decided to go to this remote corner of Africa to develop a new PET Lamp. Traditional basket weaving is regarded not only as a tool for day to day life and a livelihood for this people, it also helps to provide greater social cohesion and embodies the values expressed in their culture. All this makes basketry the biggest industry in this region.
There we found the perfect partner for our collaborative project: The Baba Tree Basket, a company set up by Gregory MacCarthy, that has promoted and preserved the traditional basket weaving work of the Gurunsi community for over 15 years. The Baba Tree community is made up of over 250 artisans who weave with local straw and Elephant grass, the most popular basket weaving material used in northern Ghana which is imported from the wetter south of Ghana, mixing in each piece the Gurunsi weaving traditions with an up to date and more modern language thanks to the introduction of the waves characteristic of this process, which gives each basket a unique dynamism and rhythm.
Each and every master weaver we collaborated with and who continue to weave these lamps leaves his or her own imprint and style on their pieces, to make a collection that is full of unique details and features. Each lamp poses a new challenge for them, where they can give living form to a vital part of their culture and display it on a global market.
This workshop was one of the most rewarding we have worked on to date. We discovered a country full of surprises and were able to enjoy a close and easy-going relationship with the artisans, from whom we learnt the secrets of a technique full of riches. The experience also allowed us to open a window to enable them to update their traditional basketry by integrating PET bottles, which are a real and ongoing problem in this part of Ghana.
Álvaro Catalán de Ocón
Enrique Romero de la Llana
Special thanks to Gregory MacCarthy, Bettina McILwraith and Azure Abotizore
Ghana local partner:
The Baba Tree