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Sunday, May 20, 2012

An Art Form

When we first moved to Lagos, I was overwhelmed by a lot of things.....the traffic, the smells, the power going out, and also by all of the beautiful artwork!!!  Never before in the U.S. would I ever just walk down the street and see artists sitting on upside down buckets whittling away at wood or creating beautiful paintings.  Sure there are areas in some of the big cities of the U.S. where you can visit to see artists.  But, here, they are everywhere!  You can find them on the street corners, at Lekki Market, at the beach and in the go-slows.  I remember our first trip to Lekki Market when I got to see so many people  making baskets to sell and carving small wooden statues and some small tables.  It is a shame that after seeing so many of these things everywhere, they are kind of taken for granted.  But, this artwork is what makes this part of the world so unique.

Another art form here in Nigeria (and in many other parts of the world) is the art of bargaining.  This is an art I have never been able to master or feel comfortable with.  I always want to just pay whatever they ask me especially when I see they have no shoes or proper clothing.  Happiness told me you are expected to bargain, and actually, if you don't that takes some of the fun out of these sale for the vendor.:)  I don't know about that, but I do know that Guy LOVES to bargain and he is a master at this art form.  It is actually quite something to see him bartering with a vendor for merchandise.  Happiness told me that you should always offer half of what they want for an item and then you can slowly go up by 50 or 100 naira until you meet somewhere in the middle. And most importantly...never EVER let  the vendor know how much you love it!  you have to be bale to walk away if you think the price is too high. You know when you have offered too low when the vendor doesn't chase after you to come back to his stall to make a purchase.  I am not kidding when I tell you that vendors will follow you through markets to get you to buy from them.:)

So, when Guy and I decided to have a coffee table, two console tables and two end tables made I left the bargaining up to him. We went out to Lekki and were able to find something we really liked and that is when the bargaining games began.  But, eventually, Guy and the vendor were able to settle on a price, and after four weeks, and a torrential rainstorm yesterday, our new furniture was delivered... 

These tables were carved from scratch from mahogany.  There are so many gifted and talented artists and carpenters here in Lagos and all of Nigeria.  These tables were made by an artist and carpenter who will most likely never be famous, but his work is beautiful nonetheless.  Watching the artists work and the entire bargaining process to purchase the goods is nothing short of an art form.:)


  1. I love the tables! Great memory item....

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  3. Hi, i just stumbled on your blog. The coffee table looks amazing. I know it's been a long time, but do you still recall where i might find the carpenter/artist that made the table? Thanks