I am Jo Aidoo. I was born in Ghana and live in London.
I started stitching around the age of seven and have been sewing all my life. I have never been to a sewing or an art school. I would say that I was born with this skill as a form of in expression. People who know me always say this about me. Even when I was deprived of materials, a sewing machine, or tools, l always found a way to be creative.
I have gone and I am still going through many life challenges, including mental health ones. But I find relief when l sew. It soothes my anxious mind when I focus on my creations. I have always created outstanding dresses and costumes – such as designing and creating many matching dresses and matching headdresses – but I never knew I could use fabrics to create other items and portraits.
In October 2021 I was asked by JSR (Jesuit Refugee Centre) – a charity that has been supporting me for some time – to design a patchwork for them to use as their Christmas card cover to send to their supporters. This is when I started creating patchworks squares, one of which they chose for their Christmas cards.
In early 2022 I was referred to Core Art, a therapy centre where I joined an IT class. There l was encouraged to design patchwork online while l continued to create the type of patchwork design l had originally been asked for by JRS which by then l was using to make cushion covers and table runners. I worked on this type of creation and design until March 2022 when I was taken seriously ill with Covid for two weeks. However, one day during that period l looked at myself in the mirror and saw my face as a patchwork, and this truly inspired me. A new idea was born. As soon as l was well enough I replicated what I saw in the mirror on a canvas. My own face was my first patchwork face creation. From that day on l was driven to use my patchwork skills to create faces only. So far I have made around thirty patchwork faces, many of famous people, friends and family.
None of my work would possible without the help of a Congolese friend who generously donates fabrics (remnants) to me from her sewing business- Guylian Style in North London – and without the sewing machine my son bought for me. I owe them both a huge debt of gratitude.
Colour is the language that speaks to me as African woman. My Ghanaian heritage illustrates the vibrancy of African textiles and fabric traditions. My artistic and creative methods allow me to examine several themes – include my family, my friends, my youth, and people of power – by juxtaposing interesting fabrics and colours to create faces of black, brown and white people, and unusual backgrounds, with African twist.