I fell in love this weekend. I fell in love with art of a different kind. I was equally charmed by confidence, passion and an understated manner that made me sit back and smile. Constance Swaniker, CEO and Founder of Accents & Art is all of that.
Calm – very calm, quietly confident and unassuming given that she is behind a company that is slowly making its presence felt, and I say slowly because
Accents & Art has been around for over 11 years. It is a winner of accolades, which in her very modest way was not all that eager to discuss; this from someone who is the recent recipient of an award bestowed on her by the Ghana Chamber of Commerce for the Best Entrepreneur – SME Innovation Award. “We got that last night”, she casually mentions. I am amazed as to her nonchalance to the clear affirmation of not only her talent, but to her skills as an entrepreneur.”It’s great, but it just reinforces the fact that there’s still more work to be done; a lot more work”.
Clearly driven but also very passionate about her work. She has a staff complement of 48 people; that includes the artisans she works with together with her admin staff. No small feat for someone who is not yet forty.
We meet on Saturday morning and she tells me that the hive of activity at the workshop is not the norm, they are working this Saturday in order to ensure that they are not overwhelmed after the coming Easter Holidays.
Functional art is what Accents & Art is about. I fell in love with her garden sculptures, before I had even seen the rest of her work. Constance is a graduate of KNUST; where she majored in Sculpture and is one of few female sculptors in an industry that has very few women to begin with. She works mainly with wood and steel; an arduous process that requires for every piece produced, the design, pattern cutting and further work with the steel up until the finished product.
Every piece must go through each of these stages, and with the training she puts the artisans through, the message is clear – it may be functional art they are working on, but it is still art. In recognition of the mature artist she feels she is becoming, another acknowledgement of her maturity has been affirmed by one of Ghana’s most renowned artists; Ablade Glover of Artists Alliance Art Gallery. Constance will be putting on, not only her first exhibition in the first week of July at Artists Alliance Art Gallery, but her first solo exhibition as a sculptor. She is excited and anxious all at the same time. She makes a point to stress that just because she is working on the pieces that will form part of the exhibit, does not mean her daily work with her studio comes to a halt.
Why has she never exhibited her work before?
Because in the initial stages she channelled much of her work into functional pieces, so she went more the commercial route as opposed to the typical route many artists take. “The traditional art route is difficult for young artists – especially so for women, that have yet to make their mark in the art world”.
The bit of sculpting she used to do was mainly on commissioned pieces. Now, she feels she is in a better place to concentrate more on the purely artistic aspects; hence why she views the upcoming exhibition as her ‘coming out’ exhibition. To be invited to exhibit alongside other more prolific and well known artists is daunting enough without being invited as the only scupltor among painters.
“Everything is still a work in progresses” she stresses though.
While for most after the accolades, the recognition of achievements; the contributions made in terms of employment creation; the next step back would be to sit back and take it all in, this is not the case for this entrepreneur. She is looking to grow Accents & Art into more than a studio and showroom – there are plans for further expansion.
Expansion of the current space will include a space that will be a place of repose for visitors to the studio, as well as an Art Institute. Her next passion is looking into the “development of art” as she puts it.
An artist and an entrepreneur; normally the two are worlds apart but Constance has in her own way managed to combine the two without selling out to one or the other; if anything, she has in her bid to become an entrepreneur come into her own as an artist. “Now” she says, “I want to dedicate more time to the purely artistic side”, and with her ‘coming out’ exhibition and more to follow – in Nigeria and later in Johannesburg later in the year; this is her way of going back to doing what she does best – working with her hands, channelling her creativity and drawing inspiration from her surroundings.
Constance Swaniker’s Solo exhibition will be at the Artists Alliance Art Gallery in the first week of July.
Accents & Art
#B79/5 Homowo Street Bubiashie
Tel: 0302 222 3395