Carved wooden plaque from Sierra Leone

Production date
Circa 2004
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This is a hand carved plaque from approximately 2004, which was presented to a member of the international team of the British Red Cross who visited a community motivation project in Sierra Leone. It originates from the Kroo Bay area of Sierra Leone and is emblazoned with a message of thanks to Ms Penny for her visit. The left side of the plaque shows a mother breastfeeding her child and the right depicts a cooking scene with ingredients being measured into a mixing bowl along with 9 spoons holding a variety of ingredients.

Kroo Bay is a slum in Freetown, Sierra Leone’s capital city. It has a population of approximately 10,000; the population began to expand during Sierra Leone’s civil war which lasted from 1991 to 2002. Living conditions are very poor and the average life expectancy is around 40 years of age. Problems include overcrowding, a lack of sanitation and environmental pollution. The Sierra Leone Red Cross, supported by the British Red Cross, runs community based health programmes designed to educate and pass on the skills and knowledge needed to look after people’s health.

This piece jumped out at me because of the detail it contains, from the pattern on the mother’s garments to the different ingredients in the line of spoons. The plaque depicts a cooking scene which is a task we may take for granted or even find mundane but here it is celebrated and the plaque has a happy energy about it. The idea of nourishment is reinforced with the image of a mother lovingly gazing at her child whilst breastfeeding. As this was for a community motivation project I love to think that there wasn’t just one pair of hands involved in the plaque’s design and creation.

Audio recording by Anna Townsend/Jodie McGregor (Volunteer), Birmingham.
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Kroo Bay is the largest slum area of Freetown and home to over 11000 people.
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