Oil Painting (2018)
Inspired by travel in the West African country of Benin. I have travelled extensively in Africa (to some 20-30 countries). Benin was my first West African country (in 2005) and I returned in 2017 for a second visit. The country has a fascinating history: originally called Dahomey after independence, which reflected one of the major ethnic groups, it chose a more neutral name, Benin, in 1990, inspired by the ancient kingdom of Benin (world famous for its bronze sculptures), whose centre was in today's Nigeria. The region was an active source of slaves during the slave trade. Benin's Ouidah is a centre of the vodun (aka voodoo) faith and hosts an annual vodun gathering.
Benin also contains Lake Nokoue, which hosts Africa's largest lake village (Ganvie) - where people live in raised houses on the water. Originally the Tofinu people fled onto the water to avoid the coastal Fon, who would hunt them to sell them into the slave trade. I returned to Lake Nokoue for my second visit and this painting was inspired by a passing boat carrying reeds/grasses, most likely to be used to repair a structure.