Limited resources - great ideas? Experiment with materials locally available in Senegal. March 2019.

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The Waaw residence is situated on the Saint-Louis island in the Senegal river, where the picturesque decay of the colonial architecture contrasts with the cultural expressions of modern West Africa. Learn more about Waaw here.

Saint-Louis is an urban setting. The city is a centre for fishing, commerce and education. Some craft trades have survived: there are tailors, carpenters and blacksmiths/welders in each neighbourhood, and there is the odd jeweller and a couple of weavers in town. But most raw materials are expensive as they need to be brought from elsewhere, in most cases from abroad. Some crafts, like ceramics and basketweaving, were never practised locally. Even in the countryside, the dry climate and sparse vegetation sets its limits.

We would like to investigate possibilities of using locally available but untapped resources in craft and design. Such less exploited materals include fish skin (which can be tanned locally on a small scale), goatskin (which is used untanned for drum making) and typha grass, an invasive water plant. There is an abundance of plastic trash (such as flip flops, buckets and containers) on the beaches outside town. Some metal recycling already takes place.

We invite a designer or artisan to work at Waaw for a month, doing research and experimenting in a craft field of his/her choice. At Waaw, we can provide basic leatherwork tools, an old sewing machine, simple woodworking tools. You would be able to collaborate with local craftspeople, but they would require a small compensation for this.

Your work may attract interest among local people and may, in the best of cases, lead to income-generating activities for material suppliers and craftspeople. However, your stay would essentially be a phase of experimentation, and any commercialisation of your ideas would be outside the scope of a Waaw residency.

Duration of residency

We offer one residency stay for the period 1-31 March 2019.


The Waaw residence offers simple single-room accommodation.

See our residency page for details.

Studio/ workspace

Basic studio with tables and shelves, either for you alone or together with another Waaw artist. Internet connection is available.

Expectations towards the artist

Experience of similar projects and knowledge of French would be useful. Please be prepared to bring necessary software and/or other equipment. You would share facilities with other international artists in residence at Waaw, and cover costs for travel and meals yourself.

Fees and support

The fee of €500 includes workspace, single-room accommodation and assistance from Waaw hosts before and during your stay. No support is available.

Application information

Please send us an informal email and tell us about your past work and what you would like to do at Waaw. We would like to hear from you as soon as possible or by 2 December at the latest.

Selection process

Out of those who have indicated an interest, we will select one person and announce the result by 6 December.

Please see our residency page for general information. You can also find us on Facebook.


The importance of sharing

Our aim is create opportunities for learning and for sharing work, thoughts and experiences with fellow residents, the Waaw host and visitors. Please be prepared to present your ongoing and previous work, and keep the host(s) informed about how your project is progressing. This includes taking part in the weekly meetings for residents and hosts.

Another aim of Waaw is to promote contacts and dialogue between resident artists and the host community. For this, respect for local culture is essential. Despite its cool appearance, Saint-Louis is neither a metropolis nor a beach resort for Westerners, but a fairly conservative town. Dress etiquette, rules of politeness and other social mores are important, and guests are asked to follow the advice of Waaw hosts in this field.

Your project

If you get selected for a residency, there will be others who are less lucky. We therefore expect you to take responsibility for your project and carry it out to the best of your ability. In order to avoid disappointment, please be realistic when you submit your project proposal. This is particularly important if you involve local institutions and individuals in your project. If you plan to travel in Senegal, we suggest you leave time for that after your scheduled residency period.

Insurance and medical matters

Waaw will take no liability for injury, illness, or loss of personal property or expenses thereof associated with residency participation.

Please have an international medical insurance and a third party insurance for all personal property and health. There is a hospital and a private clinic on the island, but for anything serious, you may have to be transported to Dakar for treatment. Please note that our resources for accompanying guests to hospital in the case of preventable illness, such as malaria, are limited: if you refuse to take malaria prophylaxis, you may reconsider your residency. If you suffer from a chronic condition or have reduced mobility, please let us know beforehand.


Waaw reserves the right to cancel a residency that is already taking place, based on reasons of inappropriate behaviour in any way towards other residents, hosts or town inhabitants. Complaints by others about a resident with such behaviour will be taken seriously and looked into.


On arrival at Waaw, you will be asked to sign a document where you agree to respect the points listed above. You will also be asked for a deposit of 100 euro to cover any damages to property.

Thank you for your understanding. 

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