Breathing New Life Into Old Fragments Of Wood


By Ernestina Boadi

What inspires creation? Inspiration can be found anywhere. For some artists, the imagination is stirred through the work that others have already created. At times it is the sights, sounds, smells and colours that surround us. Nature provides a boundless spring of inspiration through the organic shapes and unique traits of her flowers, trees and leaves.

John Sibuie is one such Accra-based artist, who has learned to harness one of nature’s many gifts and is making a name for himself in the world of woodwork based in his cosy workshop located in Asylum Down.

Growing up, John played with firewood pieces that his mother would use for cooking and would fashion tables out of the discarded material. Living close to a YMCA production unit, John would sneak in after school and during the holidays and rummage around for useable bits of wood. He has made a living making crafts out of timber ever since. “I have never had any formal training in wood, but because of my interest, I have worked with wood for about 30 years now.”

At Fidelity Gifts, John’s array of creations include stylized key holders, distinctive tables and pieces of furniture, flower and plant pots and other bespoke, one-off items made from tree stumps fetched from rubbish tips and other unlikely sources. He believes every tree has its own story to tell and is branded with a signature design by God. “I don’t throw anything away because you’ve just got to add value to the raw material… It’s God’s own design. I’m just the polisher”, he says.

John has been fortunate enough to work not only on small scale jobs making pieces to suit individual tastes, but also on grander projects – working with companies like Tigo and MTN; constructing thousands of mobile unit sellers – wooden kiosks used by vendors to sell phone credit to customers. However, it hasn’t always been an easy ride as he explains. “For about two years I was at home doing nothing. I lost my land through litigation while my three daughters were still in school. I was at home thinking about the next step”. It was during this time that John got wind of the first Ghana and Garden Flower Show through listening to a radio interview with Stratcomm Africa’s CEO, Ms. Esther Cobbah.

“I didn’t hear the whole interview, but the little I picked up made me think about participating because I had a few creations I felt could compliment the show. So I decided to visit Stratcomm Africa’s office to make enquiries’. The rest as they say is history.

Because of his knack for moulding the ordinary into the extraordinary, John was commissioned to design signature key holders for the maiden Ghana and Garden Flower Show. Today, he is a regular exhibitor at the Show, and credits most of his present success to his involvement.

“Participating in the show inspired me and the response was very encouraging; a lot of people loved the artistic nature of my work. A few people made follow ups and I got the leads for my current projects from participating in last year’s show.”

When asked what he is most looking forward to from this year’s show, his face lit up at speaking about having the chance to showcase innovative work and perhaps attract a few investors to grow his business.

It’s a serious thing for an organisation to plan and create a platform just for artisans like myself to come and display our work. It was a God given opportunity, for which I am grateful to Stratcomm Africa and the Ghana Garden Movement. Joining the show is a decision I have never regretted”.

To see John, witness his work first-hand and perhaps even purchase a few pieces from Fidelity Gifts for your home, join us at the year’s Ghana Garden and Flower Show to be held at the Efua Sutherland Children’s Park from September 10-14, 2015.

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