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Textiles (MA)

Adama Conteh

Adama is a textile artist, facilitator and instigator.

She is half Scottish, half Sierra Leonean and through writing she started to unpack her experiences surrounding racism, representation and cultural identity. Her dissertation ‘Space To Heal’, which was awarded a distinction, was the start of a journey on reflecting and remedying negative experiences which have all been anchored through hair. 

By using materials as a tool to ask questions, she explores how her practice can offer herself and others a space to heal by letting the materials become the mediator. Both the physical and digital realms are important in her workflow as she prioritises the process of making and healing over the outcome.

Adama has a background in fine art, graduating from The Glasgow School of Art in 2018. She navigates the space between fine artist and designer where focusing on the ‘why’, creating space and having a voice through her work has become the driving force for making.

Degree Details

School of DesignTextiles (MA)PrintRCA2023 at Truman Brewery

Truman Brewery, F Block, First and second floors

Artist is standing in her studio space pleating large scale yellow foam. She is wearing a blue top that contrasts with the foam

Space To Heal

I have been on a journey to soothe dissonant feelings towards my afro hair. Reflecting on my relationship with my hair through the process of making has created an instance for me to understand where the negative feelings have rooted from and given me agency to begin to unlearn hate and regrow a love and appreciation for my hair, its texture and what it can do. 

I have found comfort in untangling the histories and knowledge wrapped in my hair texture by learning how to braid my own hair. I have been understanding this embodied process further by using it as guidance on how to play with and manipulate different materials, turning the skill of braiding into an artform in its own right.

Healing through making has been the underpinning concept in my work. Adjacent to this is the focus on experimenting in both the physical and digital realms, while prioritising the process of making over the outcome. Making in both spaces offers a different experience and environment to understand and has become key to my process.

The importance of a community when healing is paramount, so I have opened up my practice to bring others into the process by putting on workshops for the black community. In these workshops, I facilitate using materials as a mediator between negative experience and healing by recentering black hair as a source of inspiration and beauty. I then translate the discussions that take place in these workshops by embroidering them onto beads to add into my sculptures so my work can instigate important conversations for those who encounter it.

Large yellow bradied foam sculptures are wrapped around and hanging from a beam on the roof
Braided yellow foam sculpture is cascading from a banister with a window as the backdrop where there is a blue sky

Space To Heal

Manipulating foam through different hair techniques to understand the embodied practice of braiding while the process turns the materials into an artform of skill

4 colourful picture in a grid. Digital colour palette, photo of hair products in a shop and 2 digital prints

Digital Colour Palette

Creating a colour story from the joy and vibrancy of hair shops using a series of photos taken in a hair shop as a starting point for digital colour mixing

Hair Rituals

A playful VR experience exploring themes around cultural identity and hair. It is inspired and constructed from experiences in black hair salons where watching hands as they braid hair becomes memorising. This experience is an opportunity for the viewer to encounter that same trance through a digital performance and colourful digital materials.

Images of workshop objects and embroidered yellow beads with cream reading longing for straight hair

Longing For Straight Hair

The perception and biases other people hold around afro hair are damaging. It can feel extremely isolating, exhausting and difficult to appreciate your hair when you are aware of the constant othering. I run workshops to intervene and offer a place for the black community to unload and heal together. I then embroider the discussion points from the workshops onto beads to add to my foam sculptures to be used as an instigator for important conversation