Documentation of the life and works of three leather artists in Ghana

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In Ghana research has proved that leatherwork is one of the vocations people can rely on. It is known that leather, which is the major material, abounds in Ghana. But in Ghanaian education, leatherwork has not received much attention because almost all textbooks and reference books are foreign. This makes the vocation unpopular among the youth, yet already in the system are many practicing leather artists some of whom are very skilful. They exhibit a lot of knowledge and practical skills, which have not been written in leatherwork books available in Ghana. Some of the works they produce may also have different dimensions from what are commonly found in the Ghanaian market. It means vital information about skilful Ghanaian leather artists is not available to the youth and other people who may want to take up leatherwork. Therefore after their death the information will be no more and it will be impossible for the youth to learn the trade and the tradition in leatherwork is lost. This research which intends to address this problem is on the life and works of three Ghanaian leather artists. They are Osei Bobie Boahin, a graduate leather artist with a Master’s degree in Art. He is in Kumasi. Dora Darkoah Obuobisa, a graduate leather artist with Master’s degree in Art. She is in Winneba. And Mr Alex Osei Anim, an indigenous leather artist in Kumasi. Even though these three Ghanaian leather artists have different working environments and educational levels, they have all proved to be very skilful, competent and creative. The researcher employed descriptive research method to describe the life and works of the three Ghanaian leather artists. Analytical method of research was also used to analyse their work. During the study, the researcher visited all the artists at different times to collect relevant information. Photographs were also taken of their unique works. The research revealed that all the leather artists are married people whose spouses help them tremendously in their business. They attach much importance to the ‘finish’ of their works, which makes their works very unique. The leather artists are all creative, hardworking and very responsible. It was also revealed that leatherwork in general is very lucrative and it is a vocation, which does not require any huge capital to start. Leatherwork can be done by anybody provided one has the interest, be he educated or uneducated, male or female but must not be too young or tool old. It is recommended that, leather artists should have a broad knowledge of a wide range of leather articles before they specialise to avoid limitation in production. They must be creative to produce unique works that will favourably compete with the foreign ones. Leather workers must be very responsible, stable and hardworking. To reduce unemployment, the Government of Ghana should help establish most of Ghana’s unemployed youth in the leatherwork vocation through the poverty alleviation fund since leatherwork does not require any huge capital to start. The leatherwork should be introduced in all vocational, Senior Secondary Schools and Teacher Training Colleges so as to expose most of the youth to the vocation.
A thesis presented to the School of Graduate Studies, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the Master of Arts Degree in art Education, 2002