Sanaa Gateja: the bead king

The first paper bead to catch Sanaa Gateja’s eye was in the studio rubbish bin. Gateja was studying jewelry design in London and explains, “I took it home and saw how it was made.” The discarded bead revealed a rolled oval shape and the potential of recycling. But at that time, in the 1980s, power dressing ruled and Gateja feared “no one in London would buy paper beads.” Instead, he used centrifugal casting to create versions in gold or silver to sell at markets on the weekends. But the original idea of working with paper beads remained with him. “I kept it as a secret,” he explains, “to introduce the idea to villages when I returned to Africa.”

  • Open access publication

    download full article courtesy of the Surface Design Journal winter 2022.

  • Image credit

    Sanaa Gateja, A New Day, 2020. Paper beads on barkcloth, 84.25 x 56.5 inches.
    Photo courtesy of Afriart Gallery.