Fine Art student Nelida Taque Nanque won the Falmouth School of Art Edge Award in 2019. It was the start of a deeply personal journey that opened up her world and introduced her work to her home country, Guinea Bissau in West Africa.
Nelida won the award to fund her research in to colonialism and Guinea Bissau. This took her to London, then on to Lisbon – the award covered travel and accommodation to conduct her research; which saw her investigating archives and museums, visiting a tour and meeting new, informative people.
Nelida tells us, “It started as an open research project, I had nothing set in concrete. The themes were colonialism and to find any information related to my home country, Guinea Bissau - and any relationship between the two.
“I travelled to London to do some research but could not find out much about my country, more about colonialism in general. I realised I was looking in the wrong places.
“Guinea Bissau was colonised by Portugal, so I travelled to Lisbon to see if I could find out more. I visited the black tour 'Negros em Lisboa, lugares da memoria Africana' (‘Blacks in Lisbon, places of the African memory’) and from the people I met there I learned things that I had not found in books.
This showed me that conversation is another way of learning; that to meet new people is really valuable and that travel can lead you to meet the right people. This was definitely true in my case!”
Nelida was inspired and went on to visit Guinea Bissau, she continues, “The visits to London and Lisbon pushed me to go further; in December I travelled to Guinea Bissau. I went there to learn more about the country and its colonial history. I got to know some artists in Guinea Bissau that I had the opportunity to work with, as well as a singer, producer and music engineer called Dima and a Fashion designer, Alfa Cante.
“This all led to me meeting the Head of the Minister of Culture, as they were interested in my artwork. Thanks to this, I will be part of a photography exhibition in Bissau!”
Nelida added, “Without the Falmouth School of Art Edge Award funding I would not have been able to start this journey. It’s amazing to have the opportunity to learn in this way, to be able to conduct my research and to be supported by my University. I am very excited to be exhibiting my work in Guinea Bissau and am so pleased to have found out so much more about my country.”