Time : 1hr 37min 38s
Director: Aiwan Obinyan
Programme Day/Date : Saturday 30th November 2019 from 5.00pm
Language/ Subtitles: English
Country : Nigeria/United Kingdom
Social Media :
Twitter, Facebook, Instagram: @waxprintfilm Aiwan Obinyan: @aiwanobinyan
In African homes across the world a benign textile lies unassuming and taken for granted. With a multitude of names from ‘Dutch Wax’ to ‘Liputa' and ‘Kitenge’ to ‘Ankara’ this textile has become an important part of African cultures across the diaspora. A symbol of strength and identity in the face of oppression. Surprised to learn from her Nigerian grandmother that ‘traditional’ African wax printed fabrics were a colonial invention made in the UK and Holland, British-born filmmaker and fashion designer, Aiwan Obinyan, sets out on a journey across four continents to trace the two-hundred year history of this iconic textile that has come to visually represent Africa and Africans. The Industrial Revolution. Cotton is king. Mills across Europe spin and weave cotton sourced from North America. Colonialism leads to the discovery of batik in Indonesia. Dutch and English traders copy the designs and industrial innovators mechanise the process leading to the creation of Wax Prints. In the scramble for Africa, Wax prints are brought on merchant ships and sold by missionary trading companies in the bustling markets and village squares of West Africa. Local women are economically and politically empowered by this new import. Business is booming for all. But at what cost? The late 20th century sees the influx of Chinese counterfeiters flooding the market with cheap
copies (?), business declines and one by one the big Wax Print companies close their doors. From this decline emerges a new cottage industry, where designers reclaim the means of production in their homes, studios and local communities. But when all is said and done, is Wax Print African? And who gets to decide?
Aiwan Obinyan is a Nigerian-British, Filmmaker, Composer and Fashion Designer. She has worked in the film and music industries, as a musician, studio engineer, composer and filmmaker. Her work has appeared on national and international TV and in 2013 she founded AiAi Studios a music production and audio post-production company specialising in music for Film & TV, sound design, editing and dubbing mixing.
Aiwan says; "...I started my clothing ONOMEN in 2014 using Wax Print fabrics as my foundation and inspiration. When my Nigerian Grandma saw the clothes she remarked 'Ah, you are using Hollandaise, that's good.' I was confused as to why she referred to it as 'Hollandaise' and why that was good, and so began a journey to discover the true history of Wax Print and to answer the question 'is Wax Print African?'. This beautiful two year journey has taken me around the world, from the Vlisco factory in The Netherlands to the Cotton fields of the USA and from the bustling markets of Ghana to my Grandma's sewing school in Nigeria. I've met with young Africans in the diaspora reinterpreting and reclaiming Wax Prints in bold and new ways and Professors who enlightened me as to the vast and many stranded history of this vibrant textile. Wax Print is a beautiful cloth, weaving a tapestry that entwines 4 continents across 200 years of History. I am both honoured and humbled to have undertaken this incredible journey..."