Margrit studied visual arts and graphic design in Ghent and visual communication at an international art academy in Amsterdam. After her studies she designed presentations for an architect of public spaces. She continued her creative career as a graphic designer in Paris, creating visual identities for companies and a catalogue for Louvre museum.
An invitation to work in Angola, then still a war zone, resulted in many contacts on the African continent. Her role varied from equipping community publishing teams with photo & graphic design skills, to designing books, creating marketing materials, making maps, drawing logos and t-shirts, facilitating visual communication workshops,.. While living in Angola she wrote stories and portrayed many places and people. She was solicited to document humanitarian crisis in Ethiopia as well as to design HIV prevention campaigns in Malawi. Her choice and focus remained to show dignity despite challenging situations of distress, conflict or crisis. Portraits of ‘in between’ moments reoccur in her photographs, which were published in different media (BBC, De Standaard, AfricaFiles...).
For Angolan publications she now works with local southern African printers to produce more recent publications like Cuvelai, the Angolan Huambo Atlas and AGUA the water manual, thereby supporting the local economy. Following her work with the Angolan team on producing a reference model on community water management in Portuguese, she is now editing the English version for international partners.
She designed the logo and website for the Africa - China Urban Platform (http://urban-africa-china.angonet.org), an initiative of Allan Cain (founder director of Development Workshop) sharing best practice urban development and research. Her pictures of a recent stay in China served Allan Cain at the United Nations Urban Habitat Forum in Nairobi.
In Belgium, her photographs from the highest towers in Brussels served to visualise research about the North-South connection for Bureau Bas Smets with whom she worked on presentations for several competitions for public spaces and landscapes. Recently she was contracted as a communication consultant for the Tivoli competition, a green social housing project in Brussels. Intense interactions with all participants (construction companies and architecture offices) enabled Margrit to design a visually powerful storyboard with a 3D imaging office to emphasise the strong points of what ultimately became the winning project.
Following her interest and understanding of architecture and urban planning, she designed reference books from conferences ‘cultural heritage’ and ‘polycentric regions facing global challenges: a role for strategic spatial planning’ for the Belgian government.
While working in Angola, her idea to answer the repeated question back in Europe ‘what it is like to live in a country at war’ was the seed for three self-initiated publications.
Mulheres Lutadoras - Walking Shops (2001) portrayed women balancing loads on their heads. It served the promotion of micro finance programmes.
Angola - Stories for Trees (2002) is a collection of observations from 40 perspectives showing a different side of the country, at the time mostly known for war, oil and diamonds. Proceeds went towards Moringa tree-planting projects with adolescents run by ChildFund. http://www.storiesfortrees.net
Paz é brincar à vontade (2002) was translated to Free to Play in Peace for donors overseas. Mary Daly, then country director for ChildFund Angola, invited Margrit to make a book with her team guiding children affected by the war during their transition to reintegration. Margrit visited post-conflict reintegration camps and together with art therapists she collected interviews and drawings. The editorial plan was revised when the Peace Accord was signed. New interviews about expectations for the future followed and a hopeful chapter full of dreams and peace was added.
Several photo documentaries of best practice projects with ChildFund in East and West Africa followed, each time showing the face of people in their natural environment. As part of a ‘life skills’ programme Margrit facilitated photo documentary workshops for adolescents enabling them to create their own stories in post-conflict Angola and Senegal.
Margrit wrote stories and portrayed people on her journeys from Brussels to Hong Kong on the transsiberian train and travelled from Cairo to Istanbul through the Middle East long before the Arab Spring. After the London bombings she was invited for a peacemakers project, portraying and interviewing people building bridges between different religious backgrounds.
Her images have been published in newspapers, books and websites in Canada, Africa as well as in Europe on occasions varying from ‘Levend Jaarboek’ in Amsterdam to International Women’s Day. Her photographs have been exhibited in office spaces and cultural centres.
Experiences and insights in different settings triggered Margrit’s curiosity for the potential of transformation through visual communication instruments. She was invited back on many occasions to post-conflict zones to work with professional teams, to share tools and views.
She followed an introduction to art therapy course in London and is finalising a 3-year degree in creative therapy in Brussels in French. With these additional skills she currently researches individual and group dynamics with multi-disciplinary teams. During her creative workshops she helps to discover and highlight teams’ resources through visual communication activities. Margrit listens and observes on location to identify needs in order to create and facilitate an adapted team building event with relevant output materials.
Margrit Coppé is now based in Brussels. Her cross-cultural experiences on five continents enable her to operate in both local and international contexts. She also does individual photo shoots on location or in her Brussels studio. Services can include pictural parts or complete story boards depending on scope, budget and timing.
Feel free to get in touch about ideas and possibilities. Each question for a new assignment is treated with respect and confidentiality.
Mobile +32 (0)484 667 336