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Robert Lanyo

Artisan Organization: Robert Lanyo

Country: Ghana

"I am Robert Lanyo, a wood carver born in the Volta region of Ghana in 1978. My friends say I am hardworking, very determined and creative.

"I come from a family that works in arts and crafts. I appreciate the skills of people who carved and I wanted to learn the craft.

"I was taught to carve in school. After completing secondary school, I had no one to help me continue my education so I undertook a five year apprenticeship where I was taught by three masters. I had to work hard with determination and creativeness to master this craft, but am now an experienced carver and also craft instruments.

"I eventually I founded my own school. Today, I teach my own students and I also give courses in several orphanages. I love to teach people about arts and crafts so they can learn about the importance of art in Ghana.

"My materials are recycled glass beads and ebony, and my inspiration comes through meditation, nature, reading books and sometimes from people's appreciation.

"I worked day and night in a friend's shop, which resulted in friction between us. But I didn't have money to buy materials or build a workshop of my own. Then I suddenly received help, which seemed to come out of nowhere and I thank God.

"It was difficult when customers would buy my carvings on credit, then refuse to pay and even fight about it. At one point, people thought I was a Rastafarian and because of that, I couldn't earn a living. But I can.

"I hope to meet people who will love my carvings and buy more of my work. I dream of becoming known around the world and would love to establish a formal art school. My community benefits from my craft, as I teach others, and my shop is an open market for the community. The musical instruments I craft are a source of entertainment as well.""