My Traditional Art school
I was brought up observing and learning the above rich history surrounding me, so it contributed an intense artistic interest in life around me. I was ever found busy with pencil or pen sketching and drawing, even during my regular nonart/ academic class.
From an early age, I actually apprenticed under my grandfather, Yohannes, a priest and well-known artist in Axum until 1977- who has influenced my life. He used to paint for churches mainly at Axum, its surroundings including at the cliff-top monastery of Debre Damo. During his preparation for paintwork, I recall fondly how my grandfather used to prepare black paint from the wood-smoke carbon that accumulated on cooking pots. Yohannes had properly trained almost all his sons and grandsons during his long period of Icon and paint works. Now, his descendants are among the well-known artist found in Axum and Addis Ababa for their distinctive Orthodox Church Icon products and paint on canvas as well as hide.
As a result, art is built up inside my blood and soul, because I was brought up on premises where the air always smelled of painting colors.
Making icons and paints remains an important vocation for me and I believe that I’ve kept the tradition alive. So, the Ethiopian art which has a distinctive form to our religious images is certainly not over.