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Creative Outlet

Is History Important In Art? – Ntuthuko Mpofu Continues On His Journey Of Learning More About Art

When talking about art, history will not move away from the concept of philosophy.

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Is History Important In Art? - Ntuthuko Mpofu Continues On His Journey Of Learning More About Art Asante Afrika Magazine
Rock art in the Nswatugi Cave in Matobo Hills, Zimbabwe
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To the readers of Asante Afrika Magazine, thank you for the opportunity to share, learn, reflect, and connect with you. We haven’t seen each other eye to eye, but I know we are connected artistically, because be it the movie you are watching, the music you are listening to, the clothes you are wearing, or under that roof you are in, someone invested their craft to it. As a team, we strive to give you different content that will be informative, whether you are an aspiring artist or collector. Many people have asked me why there are so many terms used in the arts, so I decided to unpack a few things and summarise the importance of art history.

They say the further we go back in history, the harder it gets; but what about more recent stories, with a solid basis? Imagine telling someone without any foundation of art that Claude Monet, Marina Abramovic, and Jeff Koons, are some of the best creatives in the world who influence artists, even up to this day?

Is History Important In Art? - Ntuthuko Mpofu Continues On His Journey Of Learning More About Art Asante Afrika Magazine
Artist: Oscar-Claude Monet (1840 – 1926), founder of French Impressionist painting.
Painting: Landscape near Monte Carlo – Oil on Canvas.

“A simple mistake causes a chain of errors that can change not only art history, but also our traditions and our society.”

Misunderstanding will always lead to clueless remarks, hence we will learn together. When talking about art, history will not move away from the concept of philosophy. Philosophy is a Greek word that is derived from philologia, composed of ‘philos’ – friend/lover, and ‘logos’ – speech. It is a discipline which studies texts of various natures and from different periods, in order to determine their original form and meaning. As time passes, some texts are lost, others destroyed or ruined, while many are mistranslated. As a well-noted Latin expression states, “errare humanum est”, meaning, mistakes happen. Yet, some mistakes are more important than others. A simple mistake causes a chain of errors that can change not only art history, but also our traditions and our society. That is why the work of philologists and translators is so important, and we shouldn’t underestimate it.

Prehistoric art is a term that refers to Stone Age, Paleolithic, and Neolithic art and artifacts – literally referring to the time before recorded history, as well as a select few architectural ruins. Art from this period was a powerful form of communicating information between tribes and generations; the Lascaux caves in Southern France demonstrate hunting techniques through the use of basic narrative structure and iconography, dating back to 15,000 B.C. 

In a research proven by the British museum, rock paintings were also there in Africa. African art history has played a significant role in shaping the culture and history of the world. The belief that Africa is the cradle of the history of mankind is virtually unshakeable. Origins of African art history lie long before recorded history, preserved in the obscurity of time. Rock Art is very old, and shell beads fashioned for necklaces have been recovered in the caves as well. Personal ornamentation and engraved designs are the earliest evidence of art in Africa, and are inextricably tied up with the development of human cognition. With art, as we look across the continent, we may tap an abundance of raw talent that is hindered by location to access resources like social media and publications. Art history was and is still an inspiration to our people in practicing art, since their history motivates them as a people.

To realise the transformation of targeted social groupings, we need to work out of the ethical spaces, and propagate much information as possible. The issues in this publication are reflective of art as a history of what the world is going through, and how the development will look like. There is no contestation in terms of recognition when it comes to the recognition of cultural creativity. With this art background, as a people, why are we finding ourselves talking about the controversy around the funding agencies in Africa in support of art up to this day? Ask yourself if there is any role played by the art industry when it comes to issues of poverty reduction? When colonisation in most of sub-Saharan Africa took place in the 1840s, a lot of African art was acquired by travellers, traders and missionaries in the century before, and they left the continent with it. There was never merit given to the locals. This should have been an eye-opener. As much as people say the work was not preserved, there was a greater influence of art from empires like Great Zimbabwe, land of Punt, Kingdom of Kush, the Mali Empire, Kingdom of Aksum, Carthage and Songhai Empire.

Art history and the history of art history become so closely intertwined as to be almost indistinguishable. The interest in historiography and method is manifest in a broad spectrum of the literature of art history. It aims to explain what art is, and also how it was written. This is a way to present overviews of the different ways art histories have been written, covering such large topics as Marxism and post-colonialism, as well as the influence of the work of individual historians. In other words, the ways in which the methods are used, define the artwork. With art history, one can trace how the world is interlinked.

Thanks for reading this. I cannot wait for the next issue for us to build a conversation from where we left off.

Is History Important In Art? - Ntuthuko Mpofu Continues On His Journey Of Learning More About Art Asante Afrika Magazine
Rock art painting depicting the life of people in the stone age 
Is History Important In Art? - Ntuthuko Mpofu Continues On His Journey Of Learning More About Art Asante Afrika Magazine
Rock art painting depicting the life of people in the stone age 

Is History Important In Art? - Ntuthuko Mpofu Continues On His Journey Of Learning More About Art Asante Afrika Magazine
Rock art painting depicting the life of people in the stone age 

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Twitter: @ntuthukompofu

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Art

Mirroring The Times In Sculpture With David Ngwerume

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Mirroring The Times In Sculpture With David Ngwerume Asante Afrika Magazine
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I am sure we all can agree that the beginning of the year 2020 was a rude awakening wrapped in a global event for the books due to the Covid19 pandemic. Zimbabwean sculptor slash Lawyer, David Chengetai Ngwerume, took to his creative outlet to not only process but provide a map for future generations in the form of his work, ‘The COVID-19 Pandemic Collection’ that has taken the world by storm.

According to Ngwerume, art “…is a duty and calling…”

The 40-year old’s sculpting journey started in the humble communal lands of Musana in 1995 under the instruction of revered fellow sculptor Cosmas Muchenje. He continued to excel in his academic studies as well which led him to an LLB (Bachelor of Laws, Honours) in 2006 from the University of Zimbabwe.  

Mirroring The Times In Sculpture With David Ngwerume Asante Afrika Magazine
One of Ngwerume’s pieces

According to Ngwerume, “Art is a duty and calling that I persistently continue using various forms mainly in Stone Sculpture in invoking thought into Humanity, share awareness with the contemptuous world.” Ngwerume’s sculptures have been exhibited all over the world from Hong Kong (China), Canada to the United States of America, and locally in Zimbabwe at the Hebert Chitepo Memorial. 

“My ambitions are global so I am in for it; it’s not always about where you are but where you are going.”

The sculptor’s ‘The COVID-19 Pandemic Collection’ comprises of pieces such as ‘MJ’ inspired by the pop icon Michael Jackson, encouraging people to mask up and get vaccinated. Another piece in the collection is called, ‘We are Torn’ which encourages people to sneeze into their elbows.

He is currently working on two other collections:

  • ‘Thy Next World Collection’ which addresses concerns pertaining to humanity as we move into the future;
  • And ‘Taking the Reins Collection’ which looks at the advancement of the world through the relationship between people and horses and their loyalty to humanity.

Ngwerume’s art is a reflection of the times and he is not stopping any time soon. He is also responsible for the iconic ‘Scales of Justice’ sculptures situated in front of the High Court in Zimbabwe’s capital, Harare and the second capital, Bulawayo. We got to chat with the sculptor.

Mirroring The Times In Sculpture With David Ngwerume Asante Afrika Magazine
  • The first question is probably something you get a lot, but I just have to ask; how did you manage to find yourself in the world of law and sculpting? To us laymen, the fields look so vastly different.

I am a hard worker and I believe staying in work in both professions has made me invincible. The modern-day world is driven by skill and knowledge and it is acquired by putting in more effort.

“As a creative I also can tell you inspiration is everywhere, everyday life is filled with endless sources of influence.”

  • Have you ever found yourself in a position to choose between the two (law and sculpting) or a situation where one had to suffer for the benefit of the other?

Never! My ambition has always been to do more and I believe amongst the many I do I can manage both. If anything my professions feed off each other in a way.

  • What is the intention of your art?

To influence change in this world and make it a better place through various mediums from Stone Sculpture, paintings, installations and various other mediums in portraying contemporary messages that invoke thoughts into humanity towards shaping their moment in times and make this world move towards positive thinking. 

  • In a past article, it is mentioned that you draw inspiration from your experience practising law; can you remember the first case that inspired an exhibit? Why did you find the case worthy of being your muse?

The first case I got inspired by was a Domestic Violence case. It motivated me to do a painting titled, WOMEN – STRUGGLE from the CRADLE. It was the extent of damage this particular domestic abuse case had inflicted on those involved that moved me to create.

Mirroring The Times In Sculpture With David Ngwerume Asante Afrika Magazine
Ngwerume with more of his work.
  • In another article it is mentioned that you mostly use serpentine stone, why is that?

I use various types of stones in my sculpting, like Spring stone, Opal, Lepidolite and Granite. It all depends on the message I intend to portray.

  • Would you say you have any sculptors who either they personally or their work influences your work?

I am inspired by many sculptors like Michael Angelo, Gustav Vigeland and Dominic Benhura to name a few. As a creative I also can tell you inspiration is everywhere, everyday life is filled with endless sources of influence.

Mirroring The Times In Sculpture With David Ngwerume Asante Afrika Magazine
  • Sculpting isn’t really popular in Zimbabwe, how can you say the sculpting scene is in Zimbabwe? Is there a support structure from fellow sculptors or it’s more of finding your own way?

Zimbabwe in a nutshell is about finding your way, but the upside of today’s world is that it’s a global village. In this global village, if you do your best, the world will always notice. My ambitions are global so I am in for it; it’s not always about where you are but where you are going.

  • Could you please try explaining to us the creative journey you took in creating your popular COVID 19 Gallery?

The COVID-19 Pandemic is a global event affecting us all, and as an artist, I found it prudent to play my part in capturing the moments and share my views on Awareness and Vaccination.

Mirroring The Times In Sculpture With David Ngwerume Asante Afrika Magazine
Ngwerume’s piece ‘MJ’
  • In making the exhibit MJ, how did you hone in on making the sculpture about the U.S pop star Michael Jackson?

MJ was the first public figure to move around wearing a mask, and his actions were early warnings of our reality, where the air we breathe is not safe as before because of COVID-19. His messages then were foretelling.

  • According to New York-based art dealer Shingirai Mafara, your pieces are going to be part of the United Nations World Health Organisation permanent collection. Such an achievement, congratulations! How does knowing your work will live on long after you are gone feel? One could call it time travel of sorts, conversing with future generations.

I believe art is a reflection of perception and I am grateful for such higher strides being attained through my ingenuity. It is humbling to know that my work will inform, maybe even inspire future generations all over the world.

  • How has it been coming into contact with big art dealers like Shingirai Mafara and do you think that has or will affect your style or subject matter moving forward?

Such dealers inspire my work and further my will to create and give me higher hopes that my art will be seen globally.

Mirroring The Times In Sculpture With David Ngwerume Asante Afrika Magazine
Ngwerume’s piece, ‘Halt Child Marriages’
  • Your most recent exhibit, “Halt Child Marriages” is definitely one for the times. As a man, where do you think the root problem lies in Zimbabwe’s child-bride pandemic?   

The issue when it comes to child marriages is pure ugly GREED. The greediness in those men is uncalled for, it’s dirty, it’s illegal and it is immoral to view the young Girl Child as an object. We need to right such wrongs, and I am more than happy to lend my artistry to the cause.

(All pictures used are courtesy of David Ngwerume’s Facebook)

Interviewed by Hazel Lifa

hazel@asanteafrika.net

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Creative Outlet

Serge Doamba – Deaf Artist Based In Senegal Making The Most Of His Visual Ability

My dream is to sell my art in other countries, especially in the US, but I have not found a way to do that yet.

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Image: Serge Doamba Art
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Kiswendsida Serge Doamba is a deaf artist and art teacher in Dakar, Senegal. Serge, as he is fondly known, was born in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. Born deaf, he was his parent’s second child, after his older sister had passed away as a baby. Later in his childhood, he bacame sick for some time around age 2 with a high fever, and he was unable to walk for a time. Says the talented artist, “When I got sick, my parents went to church and talked with the pastor, and I was healed. After I was healed, I began going to the school for the deaf in Ouagadougou, where I continued until the middle school level.” The humble, kind and jovial art teacher says that he really did not like school, and all he wanted to do was to draw.

Through the assistance of Angela Bednarczyk, Serge’s colleague, who was kind enough to translate sign language for us, we were honoured to be able to interview the inspiring young artist and teacher. Read on to learn more about Serge and his art.

Serge Doamba - Deaf Artist Based In Senegal Making The Most Of His Visual Ability Asante Afrika Magazine
Image: Serge Doamba
Serge Doamba - Deaf Artist Based In Senegal Making The Most Of His Visual Ability Asante Afrika Magazine
Image: Serge Doamba Art

You discovered your love for art at a young age, were your parents supportive of your passion?

Around age 7, I saw an older friend of mine drawing. I wanted to do the same. I realized that all I wanted to do was draw. I only had a pencil and paper, but I drew faces, cars, and other things in my world. Pastor Maxime, a friend of my parents, saw my artwork and he thought it was very good, as did my parents. They encouraged me a lot with my artwork.

Serge Doamba - Deaf Artist Based In Senegal Making The Most Of His Visual Ability Asante Afrika Magazine
Image: Serge Doamba Art

“Being deaf, the visual aspect is so very essential, and so, teaching the students how to express their thoughts and feelings in their art is very important.”

Did you study art at school?

I did a lot of drawing while I was in school, and showed my art to my teachers who encouraged me, but I did not have any formal art instruction during those years at the school for the deaf.

What did you do when you completed school, and what kind of art did you specialise in at that stage?

In 2007, I traveled to Senegal with Pastor Maxime and his family. I thought I was there for just a 3-month visit, but Pastor Maxime thought I should stay in Senegal, and he found me an apprenticeship with Aziz, a Senegalese artist who did artwork with gourds. I began to work with him and learned how to clean, prepare and decorate gourds. He could see that I was a good artist.

Serge Doamba - Deaf Artist Based In Senegal Making The Most Of His Visual Ability Asante Afrika Magazine
Image: Serge Doamba Gourd Art

What inspired your move to Dakar, Senegal?

In 2009 I met Mrs. Jane Penney, who encouraged me to come to Dakar and work at Ecole Renaissance des Sourds (ERS). I began at the school as an assistant teacher. I was very excited to be in a school for the deaf, and to be given the opportunity to teach and encourage the young students.

Did you always dream of becoming an art teacher?

I dreamed of going to a university where I could study art. I did not think about being an art teacher at that time. When I first came to ERS, I only thought about teaching the children, but after a few years,
we decided to have professional activities, and art was one of those – so I was able to begin to teach art. I was helped in this teaching by Susan Roese who was an art teacher in the US, and who came to work with us for a few months at a time. Then when I was in the US myself, and worked with different artists, I learned more and more about different types of art, and shared that with my students.

What do you enjoy the most about teaching art?

I love to work with deaf children and teach them how to express themselves through art. Being deaf, the visual aspect is so very essential, and so teaching the students how to express their thoughts and feelings in their art is very important. I want to expose them to many different artistic techniques, and the use of many different materials.

You specialize in gourds and acrylics. Can you tell us what interests you the most about the art that you specialize in, and what made you choose to do it?

My top interest is now in painting using acrylics. Painting caught my fancy when I was in the US, that is what I am really enjoying now. I have been able to try out different techniques with acrylics, and to develop a certain style of art. I like all of the things that I can do with acrylic paints.

I continue to do quite a bit of work with gourds. I very much enjoy the prospect of creating something out of each gourd that I purchase. Maybe it will become a lamp that sits on a table, or one that hangs from a metal frame. I use different types of tools to make holes and designs in the gourds. I also place glass beads in the holes, making very beautiful designs, especially when a light is placed inside.

Serge Doamba - Deaf Artist Based In Senegal Making The Most Of His Visual Ability Asante Afrika Magazine
Image: Serge Doamba Art
Serge Doamba - Deaf Artist Based In Senegal Making The Most Of His Visual Ability Asante Afrika Magazine
Image: Serge Doamba Gourd Art
Serge Doamba - Deaf Artist Based In Senegal Making The Most Of His Visual Ability Asante Afrika Magazine
Image: Serge Doamba Gourd Art

The third thing that I like to do is printmaking. While in the US, I worked with a printmaker, and she was very encouraging. She provided me with all of the materials to create prints, but then asked me to plan my prints on my own, without her assistance. I have continued to create a variety of prints which are very popular.

In 2015 while you were in the United States you worked with 7 other artists. Can you tell us about that experience? What did you learn from it and what did you enjoy the most about it?

The artists included those who taught me about drawing portraits, drawing with perspective, painting Chinese water colors, acrylics with a palate knife, print-making, clay sculpture, and batik. I enjoyed working with each artist, and learning all of the techniques that they utilized in their art. Part of my art instruction was with Sue Hand and Michael Hiscox at Sue’s studio, where I saw so many different pieces of art, and especially Sue’s art, as she is a fantastic painter. I just wanted to work on canvas and use acrylic paints. That was the most significant thing for me.

Serge Doamba - Deaf Artist Based In Senegal Making The Most Of His Visual Ability Asante Afrika Magazine
Image: Serge Doamba Art

My world was expanded when I visited the US. I saw trees and forests like I had never seen before, I visited the museums of Washington DC, and saw deaf friends in New York City. I went to a church for the deaf, saw Gallaudet University,  which is a federally chartered private university for the education of the deaf and hard of hearing located in Washington, D.C., and visited the elementary school there. I saw that many people knew sign language and could communicate with me. I also saw completely captioned TV – one of the many ways that deaf people are helped in the US.

Also, seeing God’s creation, especially Niagara Falls, was one of the highlights of my trip. The falls never stop – the water just continues, and I was really amazed to see that. I loved the forests and the mountains, and all of the beautiful plants that I saw there.

Have you participated in any major exhibitions, and what has been the highlight of your career thus far?

For the past two years, women from the Dakar Women’s Group have selected my paintings to be in their exhibition and sale. That has been so very exciting to see my artwork shown and sold. I have also been able to sell my art at different places in Dakar – at an international school’s events, and at other events run by the Dakar Women’s Group. I am so happy to be able to see my art at these exhibitions and other places. It affirms my being an artist. Having others tell me how much they love my art, and buying it, has been such an encouragement to me and my work.

Serge Doamba - Deaf Artist Based In Senegal Making The Most Of His Visual Ability Asante Afrika Magazine
Image: Serge Doamba Art
Serge Doamba - Deaf Artist Based In Senegal Making The Most Of His Visual Ability Asante Afrika Magazine
Image: Serge Doamba Art

Do you face any challenges as an artist in Senegal, and more so as a deaf artist? If yes, what do you think can be done to address those challenges?

It is difficult to find ways to sell my art because opportunities are limited. Being a deaf artist, it’s a bit difficult for me to get involved in the art community of Dakar, which is quite extensive. I do not have other ways to sell my art right now, but my dream would be to sell it in other countries, especially in the US, but I have not found a way to do that yet.

I need to find other places in Dakar, that could sell my artwork, and also, with help from my friends in the US, find ways to sell my art there also.

Serge Doamba - Deaf Artist Based In Senegal Making The Most Of His Visual Ability Asante Afrika Magazine
Image: Serge Doamba Art

What words of advice do you usually tell your young students who wish to become great artists like you?

I have one student in particular who is a very gifted artist. He has a natural talent for drawing, using a black or blue ink pen. I encourage him to not only do pen and ink drawings, but to try other media, especially acrylics, to broaden his knowledge of art. I am also encouraging him to go to an art school in Dakar where he will get professional-level training once he completes his education at the school for the deaf.

Serge Doamba - Deaf Artist Based In Senegal Making The Most Of His Visual Ability Asante Afrika Magazine
Image: Serge Doamba Art

Currently, where can people find your work if they would like to view or buy some pieces?

I currently sell my art by posting it on Facebook on my page @SergeDoamba. It has also been available through the Dakar Women’s Group sale which has been online for the past two years. I also encourage people to come to my home and see my art. I am planning an art exhibition and sale at our school this December, and I look forward to everyone’s support.

I would like to find other ways to sell my art. If it is to be sold in other countries, I would need some way to have the art transported there, so I hope that one day soon I will be able to get some assistance with regards to shipping my art.

Interviewed by Gugu Mpofu

admin@asanteafrika.net

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Creative Outlet

Artist Tsibisho Matsetela – Anything Can Be Art Supplies

I would be lying if I said adding a big gallery to the mix wouldn’t be the mother of all pluses

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Image: Tsibisho Matsetela Art
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When you think of art and how it is made, ‘expensive’ is a word that comes to mind. For so long the art scene has been a sector for the rich who could afford to either buy or make the art. The cost of canvases and paints is one I am sure most African parents wouldn’t be able to meet or not see as worthwhile. But what do you do when the talent is there? Well, Tsibisho Matsetela is an artist whose work could be the answer to that question. The South African artist doesn’t need much but a lot of items one can find around the house to create his work; from maize meal to coffee, it all works.

Hailing from the province of Limpopo in South African, Matsetela has always been a creative. This first presented itself in dance back in his school days in the rural areas, and has morphed into inspired artwork. He describes himself as a visual artist with a knack for discovering new material to incorporate into his work.

Artist Tsibisho Matsetela - Anything Can Be Art Supplies Asante Afrika Magazine
Image: Tsibisho Matsetela Art

What inspired the use of food in your art?

I have always wanted to be different; yes I make art, but there are so many other talented artists out there. It’s an influence in my work that has been with me since I was in school.

Artist Tsibisho Matsetela - Anything Can Be Art Supplies Asante Afrika Magazine
Image: Tsibisho Matsetela Art

“The most memorable one would have to be a drawing of Mr. Nathi Mthethwa, the Minister of Art and Culture which I attempted using IWISA maize-meal.”

Where do you get your ideas from?

I get my ideas from my surroundings; the rainbow nation is a melting pot of inspiration, if one pays attention. Bare in mind, I don’t mean from the so-called ‘wow’ stuff which is out there, but simple everyday stuff. A lot of my inspiration also comes from other black South African Artists whom I look up to.

What is the craziest type of food you have used?

(Laughs) Maize-meal and coffee.

Artist Tsibisho Matsetela - Anything Can Be Art Supplies Asante Afrika Magazine
Image: Tsibisho Matsetela Art

Any projects that didn’t work out or go as planned?

I really have to think, and not because all my ideas work out, (a pause). The most memorable one would have to be a drawing of Mr. Nathi Mthethwa, the Minister of Art and Culture which I attempted using IWISA maize-meal. Let’s just say the project came with unforeseen complications, but who knows, I might try again one day. It’s all a trial and error game.

How do you currently market your creations?

At the moment social media is my best friend, and of course if I can showcase at an event, I take full advantage of such opportunities.

Artist Tsibisho Matsetela - Anything Can Be Art Supplies Asante Afrika Magazine
Image: Tsibisho Matsetela Art

Any particular artists that influence your art?

I would have to say Percy Maimela and Ennock Mlangeni, both are visual artists. Their work constantly challenges me to do better, be bolder, and think outside the box.

Any dreams of collaborating on a project?

Working with any artist is a big deal, and collaboration is a good way to get my creative juices flowing, but I would be lying if I said adding a big gallery to the mix wouldn’t be the mother of all pluses.

Artist Tsibisho Matsetela - Anything Can Be Art Supplies Asante Afrika Magazine
Image: Tsibisho Matsetela Art

Any art gallery in particular at the top of the collaboration list?

Yes, Melrose Arch Art Gallery. It’s an amazing platform, and such an opportunity would get my art recognised, and most definitely set a tone for my career.

Where do you see your art in five years?

God-willing, I will most definitely be creating more and sharing my talent with the world. I hope to be working with renowned galleries not only in South Africa, but around the world.

Artist Tsibisho Matsetela - Anything Can Be Art Supplies Asante Afrika Magazine
Image: Tsibisho Matsetela Art
Artist Tsibisho Matsetela - Anything Can Be Art Supplies Asante Afrika Magazine
Image: Tsibisho Matsetela Art

Where can anyone looking to get in contact with you to buy your art or collaborate with you find you?

They can email me at: tsibishom8@gmail.com
Find me on Facebook: Tsibisho Lesiba
or Instagram: tsibisho_artworks

Interviewed by Hazel Lifa

hazel@asanteafrika.net

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