Gambian Potter Abubakary Nyassi on Practising Art in Taiwan

An Interview Conducted by Tola Adegbite

• Abubakary Nyassi

• Abubakary Nyassi

Can you tell us about yourself?

I am Abubakary Nyassi from The Gambia. I am a potter and also currently a Civil Engineering student in Taiwan. I am generally calm and pleasant to all.

Since when have you been practicing art?

I’ve been practicing art since 2004. My specialty is Pottery, and occasionally I also use cement to make objects.

What motivated you to practice art or be an artist? And what inspired you to choose pottery as the art specialty you practice?

I naturally fall in love with art. I think the love for art and being creative is in my bloodline. My siblings are even more creative. I got inspired in pottery because I find it amazing that many household objects and stuff we are so familiar with – dishes, tea cups, tiles etc. – are made from clay.

Have you ever felt discouraged in the course of your work? If yes, what are the things that discouraged you?

I don’t want to call it being discouraged. I faced challenges combining school – or, at some point, conventional work – with pottery. I am also happy that I kept myself determined to go about the two smoothly. This taught me how best to allocate time for a particular event time and time again. I moved to Taiwan in September 2012 to pursue my bachelor degree in Civil Engineering.

Being away from your homeland, do you still practice art?

Sure, I am still engaged in art stuff!

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• Abubakary’s pottery works

Then, how do you practice abroad?

I met friends here who share the same hobby. There is an art village here that is known for clay work. I occasionally get invited there.

What are the things you miss about home?

I miss my family essentially, and the cheerfulness of the people.

Does being away from home have any effect on your sense of creativity?

Yes, it has.

So, is it a positive effect or a negative one?

I suppose it is a positive effect. I have learnt new stuff; and I meet several exhibitors, from whom I grab a skill or two. I also have faster Internet here – and so it’s easier to make research on various techniques.

Between Taiwan and The Gambia, which do you think is more favorable to the practices of art?

It is way more favorable to practice art in Taiwan than in The Gambia. Art is broad – comedy, music, creative writing and so on – and has something to do with freedom to express one’s creativity without any fear. This express freedom is perhaps not so present in most African countries. I think the authorities need to realize that opening this door of freedom will only make us stand better chances to improve ourselves. Africa is backward when compared to the other continents. The truth hurts, but we have to say it.

With your experience from relationships with people in other cultures, do you think cultures have any influence on art?

Yes, for sure. Mostly what we do is linked to the history of our ancestors. In time, we get even more inspired to make it modern to suite our generation.

Do you have a word of advice for fellow Gambians and fellow Africans back home concerning the practice of art?

The world is about solving each other’s problems. This is how business is made. You want to be something? Make sure you work so hard to be really good at what you do, because that will be the foundation on which the future of your practice will be built on.

Thank you for your time.

Thanks to you too.

This Interview was first published in the Travel Issue of Bravearts Africa Mag in PDF.

Tola Adegbite is a graduate of Literature in English from Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Nigeria. She is a lover of words and art. She presently manages her pottery studio Geovana Pottery, where she makes and sells ceramic wares. She is Co-founder and Editor-in-Chief, plus Art Editor, of Bravearts Africa Magazine.
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