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Meet the Artists Behind our T-Shirt Competition!

This week we launched a special competition on our Instagram with a collection of artists in The Gambia for YOU to pick the design of our next ORIGIN t-shirt!

We have been lucky enough to work closely with The Gambia Cotton Trail, who have brought together an extremely passionate group of inspiring African artists for this project.

Each artist has designed a piece which they feel represents African culture.

All of the artists who submitted a design will get a letter of appreciation - this sort of recognition in The Gambia is super important.

The top four artists will each receive a special art pack including paintbrushes or similar materials, to help them pursue their creative talents.

And the winner will also have their design printed on an ORIGIN tee, as well as a cash prize of 10,000 dalasis, worth around £150.

They will also get an enhanced art package and a t-shirt with their design.

origin tshirt competition the gambia cotton trail

Who are the Gambia cotton trail?

The Gambia Cotton Trail was set up to create opportunities, employment and vibrant communities throughout the country.

Cotton used to be a big industry in The Gambia - it was once the largest cotton provider in West Africa. 

The organisation strives to create products made in The Gambia, boosting sustainability and self-dependence in the country.

Over the past year they have been supporting artists with programmes to allow them to develop their creative talents - including this competition!

Meet the artists behind the designs

We wanted to tell the stories of the four artists behind the pieces, as part of our ongoing commitment to share more of the African projects we work with.

The competition idea came after the success of our Eat Fruit Feel Good tee, which was inspired by a piece of street art outside an HIV clinic in Brikama.

Having a dream to become an artist in The Gambia comes with many challenges - and this was a way ORIGIN could provide an opportunity to these budding creatives.

Here’s a little more information about the final four designs and the artists behind them….

Design One: Faces of Life

origin tshirt competition the gambia cotton trail

Amadou Barry, a 37-year-old from Wellingara in Gambia, is a self-taught artist who has loved drawing ever since he was young. 

“I used to watch cartoons at that time and as a result I came to love drawing some of the animations seen in these movies,” he explains. 

“This was like an inspiration gained from these movies and the environment in which I lived.”

Amadou’s design shows three faces in one, and he says this was inspired by the three stages of life: youth, adolescence and old age.

Amadou is married with three boys, and says he loves to see things differently from the way others see them - which is where his inspiration comes from.

Design Two: The Brave Woman

origin tshirt competition the gambia cotton trail

Ngagne Thiandourm, Gabi to his friends and family, was born in Senegal and lived in Dakar in his teenage years where he worked as a Mason’s apprentice.

But Gabi was always passionate about art, which is what led his to join the art collective in The Gambia.

His design depicts a traditionally-dressed African woman, and is a celebration of her strength.

Gabi explains: “The drawing speaks of the bravery of the African woman, and shows the African woman getting up early in the morning to carry water to the village before the sun rises.

“That which I love most about art is that it allows me to speak freely about my thoughts. 

“Art showed me lots of things, like how to be calm, and it facilitated me meeting generous people.”

Design Three: Beautiful Fula

origin tshirt competition the gambia cotton trail

Anta Ceesay is a Gambian artist who has designed this tribal-inspired piece for our competition.

The 22-year-old lives in Kotu in The Gambia with her family, and graduated from Apple Tree School.

She is now studying fashion and design, so having the opportunity to design a t-shirt for ORIGIN will be a great stepping stone in her career.

Anta’s design is inspired by the Fula tribe - the markings depicting the cuts traditionally made to women’s faces as a sign of beauty.

The cowrie shells also represent the tribe as these are commonly worn in women’s hair.

Anta says: “I get inspired from the beautiful tattoos of Fula’s face from their traditional women's looks.”

Design Four: The strength of the African elephant

origin tshirt competition the gambia cotton trail

Zina Zocker, 24, is originally from Liberia and is the sixth out of seven children - but the only artist in his family.

He came to The Gambia in 2003 as a refugee and studied architectural draftsmanship at The Gambia Technical Training institute, but his passion has always been for art.

Of his colourful design, Zina says: “The concept of the elephant [in the piece] is inspired by the strength of Africa, as it is an African giant.

“The patterns depict real Africa - the green and yellow showing growth of the African culture and the brighter side of it.”

Zina loves having control over his ideas and how he expresses his feelings through art, and he hopes to show the beauty of Africa to the rest of the world.

origin tshirt competition the gambia cotton trail

Which design will win? Head to our Instagram page to vote for your favourite!