Hey all my name is Anna and I am one half of sister designer/maker team AFRORETRO. We started our making journey about a year ago and we have had so many highs and lows, but facing them with your little-big-sis holding your hand makes it somehow easier. It also means in your darkest hour when it all hits the fan and every instinct in your body says quit and run, having your sis standing there holds you firm. We are definitely stronger together, so for my Academy of Goodness submission I am going to write a gratitude piece on my sister and our latest venture.
Lilly is so amazing and she doesn’t even know it. Growing up in a poor council flat- no paint on the walls with a part time dad you wished was non-existent could have lead to a negative, debilitating experience. But I have to say I had the most inspiring and creative childhood, mainly thanks to my sisters and my mum. But Lilly, the other half of AFRORETRO, was always somehow there for me, nurturing my creative self, teasing my imagination out and making me feel strong and secure in my play and creativity. She taught me to draw, paint, sew, write stories, sing harmonies, dance to MTV, write inspiring job applications; she taught me to reach for the stars and not look back. So it seems fitting that we are embarking on the impossible together now 20 years on with our Fashion and craft business AFRORETRO.
We design and make accessories, upcycled t-shirts, hand made jewellery and making and creating kits to help others make for themselves. This has also lead to us holding workshops across London. We hope to inspire others to be creative and make items that are not only useful but also beautiful, all inspired from our Ugandan and British heritage with sustainability at the root of all we do.
It is this that has lead us to launch The School of Uganglish. Ugang…what? Yup- Ugang-Lish. We at AFRORETRO have been very fortunate and worked very hard to be given a month long residency as part of MBE Yinka Shonibare’s Guest Projects Africa Initiative. The initiative:
“…creates a platform for African artists of all disciplines…It is a laboratory of ideas, a testing ground for new thoughts and action”.
So with a manifesto like this and our imagination set to the sky we felt it was a call to arms or more precisely a call to every inch of creativity within us. We wanted to share this journey so we invited artists we knew or those that serendipity had brought us towards, to play within the ideal of Uganglish but with their own art form; be it music, textiles, design, food or craft. Uganglish is the creative space we inhabit, not quite Ugandan enough not quite British enough, but using this space in-between to celebrate our cultural mash-ups through creativity and empowering others.
So with less than two weeks to go it’s all coming together. The events and workshops are sorted, the invitations are making their way along fibre optic cables under the city and the best thing is that people are talking about it and are excited by what we’re planning. It seems creating a safe space to share and play within someone else’s culture is what the world is about.
I know that some of you reading this are far from London so may not be able to come a play in The School of Uganglish space. So we would like to invite you to come and celebrate your cultural mash-ups with us virtually.
All through The School of Uganglish we will be asking visitors to the space to print the story of their life on fabric. We will then hang these throughout the space creating a tapestry of colour, lives, experience and sharing. We would love you to join us by creating your print at home then sending us a high res picture. We will then display your fabric prints through the studio space and online.
Print the Story of Your Life
1. Join the School of Uganglish by downloading the PDF tutorial + watch the video of the Mono Print your Life workshop in action to see how it’s done.
2. Create your print and submit it to firstname.lastname@example.org + share the photos by tagging them #uganglish!
We are still fundraising to keep most of the workshops free and the other events as low cost as possible. We have a Kickstarter campaign and are rapidly coming to the end of its time (5 days and counting) So please, please, please take a look at our film and pledge what you can, even the price of a coffee and piece of cake can make the difference.
The School of Uganglish is enrolling now– bring your culture and lets get our creative-on!
AFRORETRO are British Ugandan sisters Anna & Lilly. A fashion and craft cultural fusion brand, they design and make hand made jewellery, fashion and textile crafts using Upcycling, sustainability, natural Ugandan materials and London life as their inspiration. They love making so much that they have also developed a range of making kits. They hold UpCycling & making workshops across London to share the love and empower people to make and create.