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Artist of the month interview with Artist-sculptor PENN TENENG Derick

This morning we are going to meet the young and very dynamic artist Derick who will tell us about his history with art and the artistic world.

Hello Derick. Introduce yourself and tell us how and why you became an artist.

Derick was born on September11 1992 in the North-West Region of Cameroon.He was the last son of his mother who was a seamstress by profession. He attended a government primary schoolnot too far from their neighborhood. During his childhood he had much passion in drawing more than any other activities. Because of this strong passion for drawing, he found it very difficult to concentrate in his education. But with much effort he always manage to pass all his promotion exams and finally graduated his first school living certificatein 2004.

His wish was to study in a technical school but his mother instead registered him in a grammar school because technical school was too expensive. He did just form one and told his mother that he will prefer to drop out of school and follow his passion which was arts. His mother and other family relatives tried to convincehim to continuehis secondary education buthe had already made up his mind and was not willing to change his decision.

Finally his mother had no choice but to accept his whish of becoming an artist. He became an apprentice in a serigraphy workshop and was very fast in learning. Butat the end of his training, he realized that serigraphy was not really the type of arts he wanted to do in future. So he decided to follow his true call which was to become a sculptor. His mother again had no choice but to look for a sculpting workshop which can accept to take him as an apprentice.But by then he was only 14 years old and sculpting required a lotof forceand not just drawing skills. But after a lotof pressure,he was finally accepted on trier bases. On the condition that if he is hard working, hewill be admitted as a full time apprentice.With time he proved that he was determined to be a sculptor.

Legal arrangements were made and his apprenticeship was to last for3₋4 years depending on his technical abilities. After 3 years of training at the Bamenda Handicraft Cooperative Society Ltd, he was being given an attestation and employment in the same structure which he under gone his training. He became a full time sculptor in the cooperative. By then he was 17 years old and after working there for one year, he suddenly decided to go back to school again with the money he made from the cooperative.

He registered himself in the best and well renowned evening school in town,he did just 2 years of studies and obtained the GCE O/𝑳 and the following year he sat in for the GCE Advance level exams and made it successfully.

With these successful results, he wrote a concour to study in an arts university in Foumban and it was successful. From there he left Bamenda to study arts in the Institute Of Fine Arts Foumban,where after 3 years he obtained a professional first degreein sculpture and two years after he obtained a professional master’s degree in arts technology and materials.

Why this interest in culture in general and sculpture in particular

  • My interest for sculpture is simply dued to the fact that it is an arts form which deals with forms and volume, making it very dynamic. And secondly because sculpture is the arts of our ancestors and should be valorized through our diverse cultural heritages.

If you have to talk about yourself as an artist, what sets you apart from other artists?

  • What differentiates me from other artist is first of all my level of intellectuality in the domain of arts. And secondly my ability to sculpt with anything that I can find like wood, cement, metal, plastics, stone Etc.

When we look at your art and what the elders have done, we see a big difference in rendering: what is at the origin of your finesse in sculpture?

  • My arts is different from those did in the past because of the following;
  1. materials Ichose to use;
  2. the tools Iuse in sculpting;
  3. the professional trainings;
  4. my drawing skills;
  5. and my ability of creative thinking.

Can you say today that one can make a living out of art?

  • Yes, one can make a living out of arts. All you need is to have the necessary abilities required to do arts…

Do you think you can transmit your technical knowledge on to the younger generation? If so, how do you plan to go about it?

  • Yes I can transmit my technical abilities in the domain of arts to the young generation. All I need is just to set up a structure or a workshop equipped with working tools and materials which will be used to train the young apprentices.

What link do you establish between sculpture and architecture?

  • The link between sculpture and architecture is that, both of them are arts of volume. That is 3D (THREE DIGMENTIONS) and all the materials which can be used for architecture can also be usefor sculpture.

We notice a redundancy of the motives of the Ndop traditional material in your achievements: why this interest in the ndop?

  • My interest in the Ndop design in my arts work is due to the fact that am from the grassfield region soit is very natural for me to be inspired by my culture when coming out with my work of arts.

Do you think that art and culture can contribute to the development of African countries in general and Cameroon in particular?

  • Yes arts can greatly influence the development of Africa and Cameroon in particular. This is by promoting artist set up artistic workshop in other to produce in quality and quantity for the growing population of Cameroon and the world at large. This will also create apprenticeship and training and even employment. Further more there will be a bust in tourism because tourist will come from all over the world to see the rich cultural and material heritages of Africa and Cameroon in particular, hence economic development thanks to the arts sector.

Thank you for answering the questions of « African Culture and Paradigm ». We wish you very good continuation in your career

  • It is I who thank you Mrs MIPO. It was a real pleasure to participate in this game. I will always be ready to answer your questions when necessary.


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