A professional life full of experience and based on literature, communication and handicraft; a curious, passionate and respectful personality - these words define Corinne Bally.
Literature and handicrafts drew Corinne to Panama at a time when she already owned her own gallery in Spain. Her first trip would prove to be the turning point in her life.
When she arrived in Central América, she was immediately impressed by the beauty and uniqueness of the unknown art she discovered there, the art of the indigenous women from this country.
Corinne first organised an exhibition of Panamanian kuna "molas" in her gallery in Valencia. Then, totally charmed ("embrujada" - bewitched, as her Panamanan friend told her) by the 'molas', textile pictures without equal in the world, she decided to go ahead with her Ethic and Tropic project. Corinne started collaborating with the indigenous women she met, working to import to Europe works of art and handicrafts that would progressively draw the attention of some of the most famous decorators, trend forecasters and art lovers around the world.
Connecting with this indigenous culture, making this art accessible and better known through sharing it - it took Corinne a year and several visits to Panama before she was in a position to organize production, ensure consistent quality and plan for introducing Pananamian art and handcrafts to Europe.
In 2012, she decided to close her gallery-shop in Spain and dedicate herself completely to this project, travelling more freely and frequently to Panama. This was the real beginning of Ethic and Tropic.
Thanks to her previous professional experience working with artisans in France, and drawing on the management experience she gained from running her own company in Spain, Corinne was able to identify and ask for the best quality products and works of art. She continued to travel regularly to Panama, meeting lovely people, forging new friendships. Corinne built Ethic and Tropic as a fair trade company based on trust, sincerity and ethical values. In Panama, her friends guided and helped her in her quest.
Few anthropologists have studied the ancestral and cultural origins of the knowledge and the rituals that form the basis for the manufacture of those masks. Michel Perrin is one anthropologist who studies the surviving indigenous cultures and part of their ritual crafts. Corinne made contact with and learnt from Perrin, while making regular visits to remote tribal areas and seeking out the best artisans. She journeyed far from the comfort of the populous Panama city, into the heart of the jungle, the home of the Embera people.
Behind each traditional object, there is usually a woman creator and artisan. Most Central America handicrafts are produced by women, living with their families in their original tribal environment.
Each item sold by Ethic and Tropic honours this extraordinary deep knowledge and helps support and sustain these women producers and their families, by enabling them to continue living in their traditional environments, far from the big city. While people from many tribes tend to progressively migrate towards towns in search of work, the ARTISAN women producing these crafts are able to keep living with dignity in their home environments.
Ethic and Tropic doesn't have its own workshop but works directly with indigenous women where they live. Each item they make is totally unique and retains something of the magic of the place in which it is produced.
No two pieces will ever be the same, because the indigenous women work freely, drawing on their own creativity, their ancestral knowledge and the inspiration of the changing natural environment around them.
There is something truly magical about the Ethic and Tropic project. It brings, through each unique object the women create, an essential beauty, an extraordinary work of art.
Corinne Bally holds a MASTER'S degree in Literature and a Masters in International Communication and Journalism from Blaise Pascal University in Clermont-Ferrand.
For twelve years, in France, she worked on newly created European Union programmes, supporting artisans across Europe.
She opened her art and ARTISAN gallery in Valencia, Spain in 2006. In 2012, she created Ethic Tropic.