Tanja Baudoin

Mediamatic’s Ghanaian Teddy Bear coffin

A documentation of our coffin order at eShopAfrica.com!

For the Ik R.I.P. exhibition, Mediamatic decided to order a custom-crafted coffin in Ghana. Our graphic designer Anuschka Linse came up with a beautiful sketch of her ideal coffin, in the shape of a crazy teddy bear. We placed an order with eShopAfrica.com, a fair trade ecommerce web site based in Accra, Ghana, West Africa. Their aim is to create sustainable businesses for traditional African artisans.


Close-up of Crazy Teddy Bear design by Anuschka Linse - Anuschka

With: Anuschka

Ordering a coffin from eShopAfrica

We got in touch with eShopAfrica's CEO and business manager Kawther el Obeid, who was of great assistance to us. She was so kind to give us a discount on the order, which meant that we had to pay $1500 in total for crafting and shipping. She obviously liked the idea of our Ik R.I.P. exhibition very much! We sent Kawther Anuschka's sketch of the bear and then, at her request, a colour sketch of the bear. We also sent her a picture of Anuschka that includes the measurements of her body, to give the craftsman a better idea of what the dimensions of the coffin should be.

Kawther el Obeid arranged for craftsman Eric Adotey Naah to create the coffin for Anuschka. It took about 3 weeks for Eric to complete the whole work. Eric crafted a beautiful coffin for Anuschka and eShopAfrica shipped it to the Netherlands for us. The teddy bear coffin will be on display during the Ik R.I.P. exhibition at Mediamatic, from 30 January until 12 April 2009.

This is the story of Eric Adotey Naah, the craftsman of the teddy bear coffin:

My name is Eric Kpakpo Adotey, a young Ga man born at Mamprobi in the Greater Accra Region of Ghana but currently residing at Nungua, a suburb of Accra. After completing the Junior High School, my parents couldn't afford my fees so I could go no further, therefore I became a drop out. I couldn't entertain idleness therefore I decided to learn a vocation.

I then apprenticed with a famous Ga coffin-maker, 'Paa Joe Carpentry workshop' situated in Nungua and served for twelve years. Under normal circumstances, every apprentice is to serve a period of four years, but then after the four years I felt the need to serve for another term for a wider exposure in the business- that was after my graduation. Again, after completion of that term, I was not financially sound to establish my own business therefore decided to serve and work at the same time with the same workshop. It was then that I had the opportunity to meet some clients like eShopAfrica.

I managed to save some money and established my own business; "Eric's Carpentry Workshop" after four year. My workshop is situated at La, a suburb of Accra. Currently, I have two apprentices whom I am training. I specialize in miniature coffins and chests with mind blowing designs, different shapes and sizes which are exported and also sold locally.

My dream is to expand the business, and to continue to satisfy my clients by producing the best on both local and international markets in the near future.

Some challenges that I face now have to do with archaic equipment which needs to be replaced by modern ones for quicker and excellent finishing.

I wish to be well-established with business before tying the knot; that means I'm single.

My most peculiar commission was to make a womb chest for a doctor. I make life size chests of people's pets. I can make any design you desire, just send photos!

(Taken from the eShopAfrica website.) For more information on Eric's work, check out his personal page on the eShopAfrica site.

For an online article about Ghanese coffins, visit Patrick McNally's blog.

Also check out the next blog entry, where the Teddy Bear coffin arrives!

Teddy Bear coffin for Anuschka @ IK RIP at Mediamatic from Mediamatic / Michel on Vimeo.