Arteasy Insight, Exclusive Interview

CECILIA LAMPTEY BOTCHWAY ON THE INTRICACIES OF BEING A WOMAN IN A MALE-DOMINATED ART INDUSTRY.

Earn 10 Reward Points by commenting the blog post

“…we should always paint what we love and hopefully, out of that love for painting, we will gain the needed attention we deserve.”– Cecilia Lamptey B.

Cecilia Lamptey Botchway is currently the Nubuke Foundation’s Young Ghanaian Artist (YGA) in Residence 2021-2022. The same foundation under which she exhibited at Art X Lagos in 2021.

Passionate about giving back and inspiring emerging (female) artists to stay true to their passion, she sacrificed valuable time from her studio ahead of her forthcoming 2022 NUBUKE’S solo exhibition: Make We Dance, from June 11 until August 31st to see this Arteasy Insight interview through. 

Shop your art and craft supplies here and earn extra to buy more

“The African woman as divine and mystical is the embodiment of the soul of our society. My performance art together with my paintings explores this dynamic.”– Cecilia Lamptey B. 

Jekami Adetiloye O.: Tell us about your background and present art practice… 

Cecilia Lamptey Botchway: Born into a family of painters and textile designers, my childhood was characterized by Batik creation, Textile making, and design. Translating this skill into my current practice, I employ an imaginative approach in the creation of textured portraits of dynamic African women.

Cecilia Lamptey-Botchway - 18 Artworks, Bio & Shows on Artsy

My Twin, My Sister: Celebrating sisterhood, 2021. Oil, mopping wool fibre on canvas. 54 × 59 in (137.16 × 149.86 cm).

African artists often explore the close bond shared between families. With this Image: My Twin, My Sister: Celebrating Sisterhood, 2021, I celebrate that bonding. Most twins will say “I feel like her and she feels like me.” That in essence, captures the painting, My Twin, My Sister: Celebrating sisterhood!

Using mopping wool threads, I manipulate the texture of my pieces, drawing attention to the aesthetic and posture of my subjects. The images of women relaxed and having fun against my creative motifs and patterns explore the multifaceted nature of African womanhood.  

“As artists, we should always be on the lookout for support systems that will serve as incubators and springboard for progress.”– Cecilia Lamptey B.

 Jekami Adetiloye O. : Why art?

Cecilia Lamptey Botchway: My father as an artist definitely shaped my curiosity about art, painting, and creativity. He provided that nurturing environment to enable me to develop my creative instincts.

As I recall with nostalgia, my experimentation with his oil paints, watercolors, and techniques of Batik creation were important. Anyone who saw me at the time knew that I enjoyed art. Or rather, my calling was to become an artist. 

Cecilia Lamptey-Botchway | My Twin, My Sister: Celebrating sisterhood  (2021) | Available for Sale | Artsy

Striking a pose, 2021: Oil, mopping wool fibre on canvas- 66 1/10 × 52 in (168 × 132 cm)

On a good day when we step out for fun and see our favorite photographer, we cannot help but pose for a picture. Striking a pose captures that beautiful instantaneous moment!

“I relax by painting. As a painter, I am always thinking about what to paint, I reflect on what to paint and I dream about what to paint. That for me is the truest form of relaxation.”– Cecilia Lamptey B.

Jekami Adetiloye O.  Adetiloye O.: What is the best advice you have ever gotten? 

Cecilia Lamptey Botchway: Paint what you love best. Out of that love will come wonderful creative things!

Jekami Adetiloye O.: What are some of the challenges you faced while trying to penetrate the Art Industry and how did you scale them?

Cecilia Lamptey Botchway: Like any profession, Art is not without its challenges. In the West African sub-region, we have very few art schools and most African Governments have not created robust national institutions to support art. Just look at our museums today. In most cases, they are non-existent. What is encouraging is the emergence of private non-governmental support to nurture and develop the talents we see today. 

Here I have in mind support systems such as the NUBUKE FOUNDATION’S YGA (YOUNG GHANAIAN ARTIST) program. This valuable program serves as an incubator for the development of young Ghanaian artists. It provides a creative space and mentorship for artists to develop their practice for both a global and local audience.

Dr. Nii Bonne Andrew of ARTcapital eloquently captures this dilemma in his blog posting of November 26, 2021, titled Our Artists Speak Up. Let me reproduce verbatim what he captured with the story of Efua Sutherland: 

“It can be really discouraging to work in Ghana—there is no support from the government for the arts. Most people don’t understand the needs of performers and what it takes for artists to create and sustain their work. I came back starry-eyed from working in the U.S., where I was spoiled with beautiful studios and theaters and was hit in the face with the fact that in Ghana there are no rehearsal spaces—at all. Even the performance venues we have are difficult to access if you are not part of the National Theatre or don’t have the right contacts, and even when you do, it is expensive.”

There are a few residencies in Ghana, and most of them are commercial. I was fortunate to have a performance residency with PIAR

PIAR is unique in that it does not require or demand products from artists in residence. On the contrary, in the true spirit of an artistic incubator, it encourages artists to explore their talents through processes of experimentation and collaboration. We need more such institutions. Need I say more?

“Paint what you love best. Out of that love will come wonderful creative things!”- Cecilia Lamptey B.

A picture containing text, person, yellow, wearing

Description automatically generated

Frema, 2021. Oil, acrylic, mopping wool fibre, and Aso-Oke fabric on canvas. 29 9/10 × 23 3/5 in (76 × 60 cm).

The painting FREMA is a portrait of Cecilia Lamptey-Botchway’s friend, a talented female painter. Her friend’s passion for art is reflected in her pose. Some describe her as fiery, others see her as a statement of determination by a lady. For Cecilia, her friend is a talented artist who happens to be female and black. She is the representation of all female artists whose voices are yet to be heard.

Get all your art supplies in one place. Shop now

Jekami Adetiloye O.: The art industry is primarily dominated by the male gender. Things are changing but still seems to be a long way to go. How do you think patriarchal dominance and female subjugation can be efficiently controlled in the African art industry?

Cecilia Lamptey Botchway: Really? The upcoming Venice Biennale has more female participants this time around. But you point to a sad reality. My painting FREMA was to capture this reality. I would like to imagine that this is changing, and we now have increased visibility of female artists.

Jekami Adetiloye O.: What is your advice to female artists who are looking to gain buzz and become global art ambassadors? 

Cecilia Lamptey Botchway: In lieu of advice, this is what I will suggest. First and foremost, we should always paint what we love and hopefully, out of that love for painting, we will gain the needed attention we deserve. You see, there needs to be an organic connection between what we see, what we love, and what we paint!

Jekami Adetiloye O.: So, what are some of the things an emerging artist must be intentional about in an attempt to attract abundant domestic and relevant international attention?

Cecilia Lamptey Botchway: We all stand on the shoulders of others to look afar. I was lucky to have mentors who inspired me. My dad for sure was an early mentor and my family provided that crucial support system to enable me to survive the challenges of being an artist. 

Jekami Adetiloye O.: What are some of your perspectives on art and being an artist? 

Cecilia Lamptey Botchway: Let me begin by saying that Art, like life, is not static. Artists are always searching for new vocabularies and mediums to express themselves.

In a way, you are correct that my multidisciplinary work is part of my drive to express myself as an artist.  A common theme that cuts across my work, would be my probing of the divinity of the African woman and the societal challenges that African women face.

Jekami Adetiloye O.: How should artistic/creative success be truly measured? 

Cecilia Lamptey Botchway: That is a good question. And I would like to think that there is no one answer. Artists have families and must support their families.

To the extent that artists have an audience and can get these audiences to acquire their works, that will be welcome news. When foundations and institutions support artists to make their works available as public art. That is also very good. In this case, the larger audience gets to appreciate and enjoy your work.

Get inexpensive canvas here now

Jekami Adetiloye O.: What art books would you recommend for artists? 

Cecilia Lamptey Botchway: This is a challenging question and reflects my bias. I see art as a reflection of the totality of society –its politics, economy, and cultural systems.

As such, any book that helps the artist to develop a better understanding of his or her society should be fine with me. Artists should not only read art books but books about society, its literature, history, and its culture.

Having said that, I am currently reading a fascinating book, DAK’ ART: The Biennale of Dakar and the Making of Contemporary African Art, edited by Ugochukwu-Smooth C and Thomas Fillitz. Using the Dakar Biennale as an entry point the series of essays in the book explore the Making of Contemporary African Art. Another book that is dear to me is Chimamanda Adichie’s book: We should All Be Feminist.  

The Book, in essence, captures an aspect of my art when I talk or paint about Women as the Foundational Power of our societies. And guess what? I see that book as required reading for ALL in our society.

Jekami Adetiloye O.: What factors influence your creative process? 

A picture containing person, indoor

Description automatically generated
Cecilia Lamptey-Botchway in the studio, 2022     Photo Credit: Gideon Lamptey


Cecilia Lamptey Botchway: I am a product of my society and its history. My artistry is always evolving with my social location in society.

My journey as an artist captures the contradictions of society as I explore the world around me. I see women as the foundational power of African societies, yet they are always marginalized and dominated by patriarchal power.

My Art questions this domination and seeks to provide an alternative narrative. Everyday objects around me provide materials for my artistry. The use of discarded old newspapers, African fabrics, and discarded computer panels in my art reflects my dialogues and conversations with my society.

The newspapers provide visibility and voices to people who are marginalized. The computer panels speak to the potent and unseen power of the voiceless in society.

It is this dialogue between voice and power that I explore in my paintings. But that is not enough.

How do I involve society as active participants in this dialogue? It is this process I seek to explore by incorporating Performance Art into my overall project. 

I share the view that Performance Art as a practice and a process serves as an instrument for dialogue in addressing challenges for Gender equality and ending the subordination of women in our society.

My art and paintings see the African woman as divine and as mystical. The African woman as divine and mystical is the embodiment of the soul of our society. My performance art together with my paintings explores this dynamic.

A painting on a wall

Description automatically generated with medium confidence

Movements of meditation. Medium: Oil, Mopping Wool fibre on canvas: Size: 70” (177.8 cm) by 70” (177.8 cm). Signed and dated: Bottom Right.

For most people, meditation, and contemplative prayer, are important in strengthening their faith. The dancers are performing a routine of meditations and contemplation. The dancer’s concentration and movements capture a series of meditations frozen in time and space.

Jekami Adetiloye O.: What are some of the tips you can give on how an artist can discover their own unique style?

Cecilia Lamptey Botchway: Let me suggest that we are all products of our environment and its history, and I would like to imagine that our choice and source of what we paint will come from this embeddedness.

As artists, we should always look for support systems that will serve as incubators and springboards for progress. 

In this regard, I will be remiss not to mention Nubuke Foundation’s YGA program designed to support artists.

For the past year, I have had the benefit of learning from NUBUKE, the best practices in showcasing my work to the Global Art Community. And for that, I am very grateful. 

As the 2021-2022 Young Ghanaian Art resident at NUBUKE, you can’t ask for more. I am extremely grateful for the platform provided by NUBUKE to make my work more visible and accessible to the Ghanaian and Global art public at large. 

I employ an imaginative approach in the creation of textured portraits of dynamic African women.– Cecilia Lamptey B.  

Text

Description automatically generated with low confidence

Black Sistas in Solidarity. Mixed Media: Oil, Acrylic, African fabrics, Plastic on Canvas. Size: 59.4” (151 cm ) by 76.3” (194 cm). Signed and Dated: Bottom Right, 2019. This painting celebrates sisterhood!

Can’t find what you need in Africa, email arteasynigeria@gmail.com to ship from abroad effortlessly

Jekami Adetiloye O.: What was the inspiration behind having your own gallery? 

Cecilia Lamptey Botchway: Ceciade_Art_Gallery is more of a brand for my artwork than a Gallery in the traditional sense. My intent was to create a virtual space to showcase all of my practice. 

Jekami Adetiloye O.: Going by the people you have met and the places around the world where your work has been exhibited, you should qualify as a celebrity artist. But how do you see yourself as an artist? 

Cecilia Lamptey Botchway: I don’t see myself as a “celebrity artist.” On the contrary, I would like to be seen as a social commentator reflecting on what it means to be a woman in a male-dominated African society.

My art challenges this domination and provides an alternative narrative that celebrates the divinity of the African woman.  This challenge is what fuels my creative process. I have begun to incorporate mopping wool into my art in recent times.

You see, the mopping wool, broadly speaking, is used by women as an object of domesticity. My art subverts this logic and re-purposes the mopping wool into an object of beauty and empowerment.

Jekami Adetiloye O. : How do you relax?  

Cecilia Lamptey Botchway: It is funny you ask this question. I relax by painting. As a painter, I am always thinking about what to paint, I reflect on what to paint and I dream about what to paint. That for me is the truest form of relaxation. Other times, I love going to the beach for relaxation.

Jekami Adetiloye O.: Your favorite quote? 

Cecilia Lamptey Botchway: “Art is life and life is Art” 

A painting of a person holding a baby and a person sitting on a chair

Description automatically generated with low confidence

Sara Aina Bonetta. Oil, Mopping Wool Fiber on Canvas. Size: 71” (180.34 cm) by 83” (210.82 cm) 2021. I have always been captivated by the story of the Yoruba Lady whose name was Aina (renamed Sarah Forbes Bonetta.) As the historical narrative indicates, she was sold into slavery but later became part of British Royalty, as the adopted daughter of Queen Victoria of England. Her wedding, funded by the Queen, was held at St. Nicholas Church, Brighton on 14 August 1862.  This painting is a homage to the resilience and strength of Black Women everywhere.

Jekami Adetiloye O.:  What keeps you going? 

Cecilia Lamptey Botchway: To see African societies free of women’s subordination. Have you read, We should all be Feminists by Chimamanda Adichie? If not, you should.

“Have you read, We should all be Feminists by Chimamanda Adichie? If not, you should.”- Cecilia Lamptey B. 

Cecilia Lamptey-Botchway in the studio, 2022.             Photo Credit: Gideon Lamptey

Check out more of Cecilia Lamptey’s artworks here

Leave a Reply