This lecture will share preliminary research on the impact of the jet age on Ethiopia’s artists in the 1960s, specifically focusing on the country’s pioneer industrial designer, Tadesse Gizaw.
Trained at New York’s Pratt Institute, Tadesse established the department of Industrial Design at the School of Fine Arts in Addis Ababa. He advocated for design education as critical to ‘self-sufficiency, change and progress’ (1967). He believed that the preservation of his country’s historic traditions was dependent upon harnessing and developing new technologies.
Alongside practical objects, like an ergonomic Amharic typewriter, he also produced abstract metalwork sculptures that explored the potential of what could be made visible. In the vibrant decade best known as the ‘Addis Spring', Tadesse’s visions were democratic and futuristic, and reflective of the creativity that the jet age inspired.
Kate Cowcher is a Lecturer in Art History at the University of St Andrews and is a historian of art from Africa, with a particular focus on Ethiopia, and on modern and contemporary practices.