Nonyem Abena Ibeneme
"I was born in 1960 to a Nigerian father and Ghanaian mother in Lagos, Nigeria. I grew up both in Nigeria and in Ghana over different periods of my life. I went to law school in Nigeria. I worked in the Lagos State Ministry of Justice, in a private legal firm, in a bank in Nigeria and later on, one in Ghana. I dedicated over ten years of my life to practicing law, serving my nation and people. During this period I also got married and had a daughter.<br><br>"1993 was a turning point in my life. After some soul-searching, I was ready to lead a more relaxing lifestyle and follow my growing passion as an artist, as well as spend more time with family.<br><br>"I have been following art for years, especially jewelry art, but I never really took time to create and enjoy it. I could put together accessories beautifully to match an outfit. I also kept an eye out for interesting jewelry on my travels - I was so intrigued by the different techniques and very unique designs.<br><br>"I managed to acquire quite a jewelry collection over the years, but what really set things in motion for me was when I inherited antique beads from my mother after her passing. It was the sign I had been waiting for, so I began on my creative journey. It was rather spontaneous and, as soon as people started admiring what I was wearing to occasions and events, I knew I was on the right path.<br><br>"I am a self taught artist, very observant. and I browse the web, magazines and books to learn more each day. My creative inspiration comes from within mostly, and also from nature. I look at what people wear and listen to what they say about a piece of jewelry to improve on my designs.<br><br>"In terms of materials, I use everything that catches my fancy and I particularly like to incorporate recycled materials in my designs. I am constantly seeking to do what nobody has done. This is the challenge for me, to create unique items and art to wear. I am attracted to the fact that I am in a world of my own when creating, and I'm overjoyed to see people I do not know wearing my jewelry? it's like you are wearing a part of me.<br><br>"I work with two permanent artisans at my workshop. Occasionally, I also teach and work with young women who have dropped out of school and have no other opportunities to earn decent wages and be productive in their lives. It gives them a sense of worth and gives them an opportunity to continue their education, if they choose to, after they have saved their earnings over a period of time. I have so far helped three young women who have moved on to continue their education.<br><br>"In the past, I have promoted my designs internationally, and I have participated in numerous trade shows and exhibitions locally and internationally, including the <i>Tendence</i> Lifestyle show in Frankfurt (2008). I love participating in such fairs to share my art with the world and also experience and see the different art and crafts of the world. My handcrafted jewelry can be found both in Nigeria and Ghana.<br><br>"When I am not busy working, designing or creating, I like to read and cook. I also participate in local church activities, charity work and spend time with my daughter who lives with me.<br><br>"Working with you has ignited waning passions, energized me toward creativity, and motivated me to believe in a bright future ahead, especially after feeling discouraged given the conditions of the international market.<br><br>"My dream for the future is to continue creating new designs and grow progressively, so that in the next five years my work is known worldwide."