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Meet Sierra Leone’s Essential Workers: The Artist

by Alhassan Lamin
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My journey as an artist started at the age of 5 when I started doing creative, practical arts. I’m self-taught and never went to art school. I’ve always believed that I was an artist and that I was born with this gift. I’m studying to get a degree in Multimedia Broadcasting and Advertising at Limkokwing University, and I also have a Social Work diploma.

The pandemic didn’t affect my work that much. There’s less demand for art pieces in Sierra Leone in general and even less so now. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, I planned on how I could become a professional artist in my transitional period. I’m where I need to be, but the pandemic is interrupting my plans. I wanted to have an exhibition and sell my canvases, but now I can’t.

The downside of my job is that I can’t get access to art materials in Sierra Leone. There’s no art supply shop or gallery. I had three or four contracts per month, which hasn’t changed. As a female, this field is male-dominated; I feel special though there is not much competition.

The effect of COVID-19 affected my family. Things change; we no longer do the things we used to do. I’m living with my mom. She is a teacher when schools were closed, and she got a pay-cut. Almost all of the burden was on me. My sister was also giving support to the home. We even reduced the way we feed because the price of most things increased. So from cooking every day, we now cook when we have it.

When the lockdown started, I used the opportunity to learn more things and draw different things based on my concepts. I’ve recently used most of my free time to earn two entrepreneurship certificates from Global Youth Network and IOM. Based on the brief knowledge I have gotten on entrepreneurship, I plan to draft a business plan to grow my brand. I’m also thinking of setting up a team that will assist me in my activities and gets a training center to teach young artists who have a passion for the arts.

One of the critical things that I need right now is finance. I am facing lots of challenges, more so in getting the materials. Like I said earlier, the love for arts in Sierra Leone is small. So to even get the original materials like brush, paint, and others are hard.

Credit: OSIWA/Essential Stories

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