Cookery and Art.
Great food, like all art, enhances and reflects a communities vitality, growth and solidarity.
Art is too important not to share, and here at Shwen Shwen we love meeting other creatives within the diaspora that share our passion for elevating culture, connecting people and making a difference through what we do. We love connecting and collaborating with other creatives, but especially the obsessive ones, the detail orientated ones, the ones who say do it right or not at all.
Moreover, Black History Month is almost upon us, which provides a fantastic opportunity for us to recognize the outstanding contributions people of African and Caribbean descent have made in the United Kingdom and we are especially proud of our, oh so lovely, incredibly talented, Salone titi, Ayesha Feisal.
In conversation with Ayesha Feisal
Ayesha Feisal is a British/Sierra Leonean visual artist. Her work draws from the study of behaviour and the mind, using the human form to explore the psyche. She is influenced by an interest in consciousness, universal law, balance and truth. Choosing to portray characters with elevated mindsets, who move beyond the impact of circumstance, environment and social condition, her works are also a response to events and situations.
Just like Maria and Shwen Shwen, she’s influenced by her Sierra Leonean heritage.
In conversation we asked her about this, and she said “My Sierra Leonean heritage and culture has no doubt had an influence on my work. I was surrounded by creativity growing up and self reliance (or a ‘do it yourself’ attitude) was always encouraged. All the girls in our family knew how to braid and style hair, from the ages of 9 we would create intricate styles and fix each others hair. My mother who was a nurse by profession could create any style you wanted, whether it was fashioned with thread or hair extensions so there was no need for hairdressers, aunties and the like would come to us young girls to get their hair braided, weaved or styled. My mother also sewed and would make clothing and soft furnishings. She taught this skill to my younger sister who to this day creates clothing (she is also a qualified ceramicist)”.
Food can be expressive and therefore, food can be art. More broadly, African culture is enriched by the arts which can be defined as the theory, human application and physical expression of creativity found in human cultures and societies through skills and imagination in order to produce objects, environments and experiences. The Arts include visual arts (including architecture, ceramics, drawing, film-making, painting, photography, and sculpting), literary arts (including fiction, drama, poetry, and prose), performing arts (including dance, music, and theatre), and culinary arts (including cooking, chocolate making and wine-making).
We asked Ayesha about the impact of Sierra Leonean culture on her childhood, and she replied:
“We were expected to learn how to cook and great pride was taken in the ability to create meals for the family. Cooking for parties and occasions were a bonding experience and I have fond memories of me and my siblings in the kitchen with the huge calabash bowls, catering size ‘auntie pots’ as we used to call them preparing the food with our favourite music playing in the background”.
“Creativity was also present throughout our house. Artifacts that were not just aesthetically pleasing, but were of significance and held cultural value. Fabrics that were not only striking but served a purpose in identifying we were connected. I used to love (and still do) designing and sketching out my ‘Aso Ebi’ outfits, as a youngster, mine would always be the ‘alternative’ non traditional style, another way to express myself”.
When thinking about how art and culture enhance our communities, Ayesha said “Africa has long been cutting edge, it’s only more recently that the world lens is focused on Africa through popular culture, such as music and fashion etc that many are getting used to (and accepting) the idea of African’s as innovators”.
Thank you so much Ayesha Feisal.
Visual Artist | Member – Black British Female Artist Collective (B.B.F.A)
Keep doing what you do… Keep holding it down for our Sweet Salone.
Please do check out her website.