One of the best presents to bring from Nigeria is batik. Unlike beadwork, which may combine materials made in China or other parts of Africa, a batik is made in Nigeria. And unlike masks and woodcarvings, batik fabrics don’t take up much space and don’t require an “import permit” at the airport.
This is Matthew, my batik supplier. He lives in Ibadan, like most batik artists/vendors, taking the 3-hour commute to Lagos to sell his products. He usually goes to the beaches and plies his tablecloth, bags, and aprons to expats. If he’s lucky — and this is one of the goals of artisans — he will be invited to private parties and fairs or bazaars to exhibit his work. Competition can be tough, for there are many batik artists. It seems that every other expat I know already has her favorite batik supplier. I chose Matthew because I love his vibrant colors and patterns, because he gives me the best rate, and he is willing to try the different color combinations and patterns that I recommend. He knows my favorite colors and that I prefer floral and geometric patterns, instead of animals, huts, and people. We also explored unusual color combinations, like purple and faded green for our bedspread. Our Art teacher asked him to do a v-stripe pattern in black, gold, and white for her wicker furniture cushions and the results were beautiful.
If you like his work here and wish to see more, his e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org