Scarves that speak

Artistry and technology come together in Seble’s silk scarves, to make the wearer part of the story. The vibrant paintings of Seblewongel Gelan tell stories of women’s lives in Ethiopia, documenting their role in the culture and economy of their country and their experiences as women.

Waiting For The Train is a snippet in the life of a fruit seller, waiting for the arrival of the in frequent rural trains in order to sell her goods to the passengers,

while the Coffee Picker draws parallels between the importance of coffee to Ethiopia and womens’ contribution to the industry and their society.

Throughout Gelan’s work is a theme of female empowerment, mirrored by her own experience as an artist. As a child the artist started painting and making jewellery. Aged 12 she was taken under the wing of an art teacher who cultivated her talents, enabling her to put on her first exhibition at high school before going on to study at Ethiopia’s only art college. Through her art she became known to the international community and has been invited to exhibit her work at embassies and galleries in Addis Ababa. Her paintings have reached a global audience through working with SPINNA Circle and Inclusive Trade, where they are transformed into printed silk scarves.

A QR code is incorporated into the design that takes the reader back to, where they can read Gelan’s story. But the QR code also serves another purpose – Inclusive Trade was founded on the premise of every product having a positive impact, and providing consumers with transparency so that they can make informed decisions on the products they buy. The use of technology can help to build a transparent supply chain that links end customers to the story of the product, from raw materials through making and shipping, so when users scan the barcode on one of Gelan’s scarves they read the full story for themselves.

Learn more about her collection Seblewongel Gelan