Torroo's creations onto other materials

June 12, 2013 by Walkartroad Magazine

DEVOTION– Presently trending is the ‘Jewel from Belgium’. She is Africa’s best friend. She lives, dreams, enjoys, celebrates and promotes the continent more the Africans! She is a Belgian, speaks French and English. Africa is a continent so dear to her. The cultures, the art, the music of Africa, all inspire her in her day to day life and career. Right from her childhood, Carine Vanderstraeten has always seen the purity in Africans black color. She readily admits that she was born with. A trait in her that never wanted to leave her body and got stuck. The artistic nature in her also contributes to the admiration and devotion on Africa that she speaks and writes some of the languages at appreciable level. Carine is delight to meet and listen to. Life memories and reflections, contact with Africa, her views about the continent’s culture and art that are so dear to the ‘Jewel’. In her revelation to WALKARTROAD, Carine reveals what Africa and Africans truly mean to her.


You seem to be a staunch supporter and a friend of Africa?
I was born with it. I realised this when I was a little girl that I always get attracted to the blacks. I mean everything that has to do with Africa or the Afro-Americas. Even, while growing up, my first doll as a baby was a black one that was so precious to me. During my teenage years, I started listening to all kinds of black culture music, ranging from soul, funk to reggae and favourite actor was Sidney Poitier. At the tender age of twelve, I gave a speech in school about Black American civil rights activist, Rev. Martin Luther King, then, we were asked to choose any personality we admire and I simply chose him, because of his inspirational qualities. I was a rebel singing James Brown, “Say it loud/ I am black/ and I am proud!”My first boyfriend happened to be a Congolese student. Then, it somehow derision, but I was unperturbed. We were very happy, having good time together and I was proud to walk with him on the streets, when people will stare at us, because we were deeply in love. It was even, about that time, a certain journalist friend of my family gave me a book titled “Roots”, written by Alex Haley. Somehow, it seemed the man knew where my heart is and that book, the storyline are etched in my memory till today! I remember being aged 15 at the time. The book changed my life forever and opened my eyes about black history. I got engrossed with African music, Afro-American music and African history. Two of Nigeria’s most famous artistes, King Sunny Ade and Fela Kuti, came into my life, when I was close to age 20. Gradually, I got hooked to the music from Mali; the Touaregs and Nigerian folksongs took my breath away. Each time I listened to their music, I felt like coming home. I discovered through music that Nigeria is my home.

Can you rate Africa in terms of Art appreciation?
Many great European artists were and still are looking up to Africa for inspiration right from time. Even, Pablo Picasso was inspired by African art, masks and more. So many people and collectors today are collecting African art,
, because the art has a great culture. Yes, the soul of art is in Africa.
What inspired your career?
I started creating art at the tender age of ten. I was just drawing, but later abandoned it. Only to meet a friend, who discovered all my drawings and was awestruck! The next day, I went for paper and everything, then, the explosion! I couldn’t stop drawing anymore. I first did black and white graphics after another. The response was cool, as, people loved them so much. I had a boyfriend, who was also a professional photographer, who asked me to come up with a signature name for my art works and I took “Toroo”. From then on, I started adding colors to my drawings.

Talking about fulfilment, it’s like you get inspired by Africa’s world music? How often does this attachment contribute to your career path?
Africa lives in my heart. Sometimes, I got hooked to an album and I would start feeling the beat, the emotions draw in, the culture and the tribe overwhelm me, then, I always want to draw and paint on it to give my feelings for Africa.
Most of these songs are being done in Africa’s many languages. How do you relate with such music for inspirations?
I feel the music, the emotions, the messages and most of the musicians put on lyrics with translations. But most importantly, the music speaks.

One of your works was inspired by Beautiful Nubia’s “Irinajo’’. Please can you shed more light about the work and the impact of the album?
“Irinajo’’ hit me! Each person who listens to BN’s messages in the album, surely, should get inspired. That’s how the concept “The power of love” was born and it became the cover for “Sun No Dey Sleep”. It was a present to my friend and he appreciated the impact of the work. It was a surprise for me when it became the album cover. What an honour! BN’s music inspires me all the time. He lifts me. Presently, I have made five paintings on all his albums. Again, I am working on one at the moment. Beautiful Nubia is a blessing to Nigeria. So, I wonder, if all people from Nigeria would follow the spirit of BN, you can imagine Nigeria’s future?
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