Sophie Kingo Blogs

Insight into Sophie Kingo's African-Scandinavian inspired clothing and accessories


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Our holiday in Ghana

Well, as mentioned in my latest blog on Sophie Kingo Photography, I can’t quite believe it’s well over 10 months ago Projectbrownman and I were in Ghana. And all I’ve mentioned about it online is in my sorry excuse for a blog post back in February of this year.

Out trip to Ghana in August 2010 was my first. In fact, it was my first time in Sub Saharan Africa altogether. It took me a while to get there -25 years, but I made it. Something about Africa, granted primarily the natural element of the continent, has always appealed to me.

I think my interest in the continent started with my love for cats, big cats in particular, when I was little. This led me to watch hour upon hour of the BBC’s nature programmes. From Wild Africa charting giant mole rats in Ethiopia, Cheetah hunts on the savannah, and chimpanzees in the jungle, to Big Cat Diary following new lion cubs, cheetah and leopards finding their way in Kenya, I watched it all. Therefore it’s only expected that I’d always had a hankering to visit somewhere where these animals are, according to BBC TV documentaries anyway, in abundance.

Studying Sociology and Social Anthropology at Hull Uni, opened my eyes to the other side of  Africa – the people and cultures. And when the BBC aired Tribe with Bruce Parry, which featured a couple of African tribes and left many anthropologists reeling at it’s inaccurate ethnographic elements, I was overjoyed. The BBC were finally opening up your average Joe to a world very different to their own. To me, anything to widen Britons’ knowledge of different cultures and societies has to be worth it.

Then, there was that fateful night in November 2007 when I ended up at a hat party in East Dulwich, London.  There I spent many a minute treading on one Ghanaian/British Projectbrownman’s feet. One thing led to another and, well, by August last year we were 1 year and 9 months into our relationship and ready to pay a visit to the Motherland for PBM’s mother’s 60th and his Grandma’s 85th. We booked our BA flights, had our many jabs, I made some dresses, and off we went along with Marcia, Barry, Patrick, Phyllis, L1 and L2 for 10 days in Ghana. And what a wonderful place it is. The landscape, the culture, the hospitality, the people, and the spirit are just amazing.

Here are a few photos from our trip, with some background information to increase your knowledge of the beautiful Ghana:

Akosombo Dam and Lake Volta

Built between 1961 and 1965 under Kwame Nkrumah, the dam, which is 660m wide and 114m high now provides power to Ghana, Togo and Benin.

Lake Volta, the largest reservoir in the world by surface area and the fourth largest in the world by volume, has a surface area of c 8,502km2. The lake, formed from the Akosombo Dam, displaced approximately 78,000 people and 200,000 domestic animals.


Accra Centre for Arts and Crafts

One of the most important tourist attractions in Accra, this market is the biggest in the country for arts and crafts, including: wood carvings; traditional musical instruments; cane and raffia products; leather ware; gold, silver and bronze jewellery; beads; clay products; antiques; paintings; and ivory products from across the country and Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, Cote d’Ivoire, Togo, Senegal and Nigeria.

Umbrella Rock and Boti Falls

Located in the Yilo Krobo District, Boti Falls is a 30m high waterfall, whilst Umbrella Rock is a natural rock formation with beautiful views across the Boti Reserve.

Labadi Beach

Labadi Beach is one of the most popular beaches in Accra for tourists. This stretch of the Atlantic Coast features  cafes, souvenir vendors, and sometimes entertainment from drummers and performers.

Kakum National Park

Kakum is a rich moist rainforest covering 350km2 and located in the central region. The Park includes 40 species of mammals, including: elephants, buffalo, leopard, bongo, and primates, over 200 species of birds and 400 species of butterflies. It also includes a 40m high (rickety and scary) canopy walk.

Cape Coast Castle

Cape Coast Castle is a fortification built by Swedish traders in 1653. Seized by the Danes in 1663 and one year later the English, the Castle became the seat of the colonial government of the British Gold Coast and traded in timber and gold. Later, the Castle was used in the trans-Atlantic slave trade.

Obuasi

Obuasi, in the Ashante region in southern Ghana, had a population of 115,564 in 2000. Obuasi is known for its gold mine, now one of the ten largest in the world, with gold having been mined since at least the 17th century.

When can I go back?!


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Stands Alone

Back in January we received a note in our letterbox looking for people to take part in a final project as part of a neighbour’s postgraduate photography course. We had moved into our shared ownership flat in Highbury Stadium Square, the former home of Arsenal football club, in December last year and had hardly seen any of our neighbours. So when offered the opportunity to meet someone else from the Square (Simone Novotny), her husband and potentially the others taking part, we naturally jumped at the chance. Plus, we’re not really shy, so why not?!

We organised for Simone and Eduardo to come round one Sunday in February to take photos and shoot some footage of us in our flat. This, of course, meant I had to make sure the flat was presentable, after all “we’re missing furniture. We have to make sure it looks good.” Actually, I was a bit nervous as to what to expect. Having your photo taken by people you don’t know, not to mention video footage, to be seen by loads of people on the internet and in an actual physical exhibition, felt quite weird, even if I have got shed loads of photos of me on Facebook and have started blogging photos of me in my dresses.

However, it was a blast. We had a laugh. Though, looking at the photos now I’m wishing I’d made more of an effort to look good. Even if my tights, cardigan and what I’m knitting do nicely coordinate with the cushions and map.

But all that aside, I’m very impressed with the outcomes. The photos Simone has taken look fantastic, and the video’s great. The opening sequence, with everyone entering their flats is hilarious. I’m sure people don’t normally enter their flats heads down, focusing on keys, wry smile on their faces and super speedy! Also, very surreal to see another young couple in their flat on the opposite side of the stadium knitting and playing video games just like us. Great minds eh?!

All round, a great project. You can check it out on Simone’s website, Eyes of Change, along with loads of other great projects she’s undertaken.

And here’s the video. Quick and easy to get to. Enjoy! In the meantime, we’re hoping this is a good jumping off point for meeting our neighbours.


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Ghana

Having just downloaded Cadbury’s Big Swap Songs as part of their Big Swap for fairtrade fortnight I am now enjoying a good dollop of Hiplife. Last year Cadbury’s launched the news that their Dairy Milk bars would now be using fairtrade cocoa from Ghana with a fab song and video from Tinny – Zingolo. And now this. I must admit – I’ve never thought of Cadbury’s as my favourite chocolate and have always tended to be one to buy Galaxy instead. But since launching as fairtrade Cadbury’s Dairy Milk has gone up in my estimations.

And, of course, all this Hiplife is reminding me of my and PBM’s fab trip to the wonderful Ghana. So here are a few photos from the amazing country. Planning to get back there soon. Maybe Christmas 2011. It certainly has a wonderful feel to it and I can’t wait to see more.

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Sleeveface

I think it was February 2008 when Jeff told me that he’d seen this thing where people substitute relevant body parts with a record sleeve, photograph it and upload it to a Flickr group. It was called Sleeveface. Jeff thought it was perhaps the best thing ever. So, one weekend when I was visiting Jeff (for the first nine months of our relationship he lived in London and I lived in Hull) we set about taking photos using his stash of  records.  I think our first attempt was the Hair cover, followed by Run DMC, Diana Ross, Michael Jackson and more…

We uploaded our attempts to the Sleeveface Flickr group, thinking it was good for a laugh and got loads of hits. People were going crazy for Sleeveface. It was on the news, in the papers, on the radio, on online social networking sites. Thinking nothing more of our additions we received an email from the creators of the Sleeveface group telling us they were publishing Sleeveface: be the vinyl and would like to use some of our images for it. We said yes, of couse.

One following weekend Jeff was in Hull and we raided my sister’s and parent’s vinyl stashes. I think this time we did Barbara Streisand, Cam’ron, George Benson, Paul Young and Annie, amongst others. We uploaded them and let them know we’d done more.

Eventually we heard back from Carl Morris, one of the creators of Sleeveface to tell us they were including four of our images in their book.  They chose Hair, Run DMC, Bobby Brown and Al Wilson (you can see them jumbled up with our other submissions in the image below (apologies for the quality). We’re surprised. There are so many better ones out there. And the book is really worth checking out. Some of them are wicked.

Skip forward a few months and the world is shocked by the announcement that King of Pop Michael  Jackson has died. And what happened? All of our Michael Jackson sleeveface pictures on Flickr got hundreds of hits that day and still do get more than any other pictures strangely.

But besides that, people keep adding our photos to their blogs. I recently googled Sophiekingo to see if anyone else used the same name as I do and found my name featured in a blog by DJ Ron.   German DJ Ron (and this is where I managed to impress myself by remembering a remarkably decent amount from my A Level German classes) said something along the lines of:

In the new edition of GQ I stumbled across an article on the book Sleeveface: be the vinyl. I know the theme isn’t that new anymore but I did a search for Sleevefaces with hip-hop vinyl covers. It was not so easy to find good hip-hop sleevefaces. Here is my top 10.

And who is number one? Yep, Cam’ron by none other than Jeff and me. And this was on 10 November 2009.

It seems Sleeveface is still going strong.