On this occasion, my artistic exploration took me to Abuja Nigeria. I had a list of galleries, art institutions and establishments I planned to visit during my stay. The first on my list was the Nike Art and Cultural Research centre owned by Chief Nike Davies Okundaye, a renown, well respected female Nigerian artist. I met Nike Davies Okundaye during her talk at the Gallery of African Art for her exhibition in London. You can read about the talk in this post on Nike Davies Okundaye talk. In conversation with Nike, I was made aware that she had a centre in Abuja. After her inspirational and candid speech on how she became an artist and her influences, I knew I had to visit, so here I am.
Nike Art and Research centre is located in Piwoyi village, Abuja International Airport Road. In the Asokoro area. It is the next turning after MRS station, in the direction of Abuja Airport traveling from Abuja. This is one of the four Art Centres Nike has in Nigeria, where she supports and showcases the works of craft men and talents of emerging and established artist.
As we embarked on the road leading up to Piwoyi village, my initial reaction was this can’t be the place and my mum must not find out we used her car on this derelict road for fear of damages to her car.
A few yards ahead, I could see the tip of a large structure. As we got closer we were greeted by this monumental terracotta building. At this point, I knew we were in the right place and I could feel the flow of excitement in me.
A sign post on the left provided confirmation we had arrived at the correct destination.
We were at Nike art centre about 10am and it was calm and peaceful. We were greeted by Jide, a kind soul who had previously provided us with directions on the phone. We were the only guests on the premises.
The large structure, is called the bird house which is used for relaxation and meditation.
Immediately behind the bird house, were a number of white stone statues.
One of these statues was shongo, god of thunder in yourubaland mythology. Shongo Orisha(Deity) is a religion that migrated from the historic Oyo and Ogun areas in Nigeria and is practised in North and South America(Brazil). Shango is sometimes portrayed with a double axe on his head (the symbol of thunder), with six eyes and sometimes with three heads.
Nike is renowned for her Adire Fabric, textile and print works, amongst other techniques and different media used in her works. So it was only befitting for her to have an Adire workshop at her centre.
We met textile artists at work in the workshop, preparing the wax for the wax prints, applying the wax and design to the fabric.
Just behind the workshop were the concrete wax pots used to create the wax.
To the right, were these cute mud huts in the shape of cones used for storage.
Most of the buildings on the premises were engraved with nigerian masks used in tribal ceremonies which are important artefacts in Africa.
We now made our way to the gallery entrance. And we were greeted with a room full of different artistic creations, which included sculptures, installations, artworks on paper.
We proceeded to the main gallery which was an impressive size with paintings from floor to ceiling.
There was wide selection of paintings by professional artists, artists mentored by Nike and self taught artists. Using a western lens to digest the art work, I could see an array of western modernist techniques on display like abstract expressionism, fauvism, cubism. According to art historians, African art influenced these techniques which are evident in the works of Art Masters like Pablo Picasso. There were potrait, figurative and landscape paintings created with innovative styles capturing the essence of nigerian urban and traditional culture and lifestyles. Here are a few below.
In the middle of the room was a table with adire, scarfs, handkerchiefs and T-shirts created by Jide, one of which I purchased as a souvenir.
There were 2 sculptures standing on the left and right side of the room, made from tyres. One was of a head of a Ram. Rams are typically used to celebrate sallah, a Muslim celebration(Eid) after Ramadan, the period of fasting.
The works of Nike were on a number of walls, which included this beautiful piece.
There were paintings that captured and celebrated a woman’s crowning glory.
I was particularly drawn to the world of Fidel N Oyiogu. I kept on going round the room, but on the four corners of each wall, Fidel’s paintings was calling at me. I love the coarse texture in his mixed media work and the colour tones used. I could not resist and eventually gave in and bought ‘Togetherness’ below.
I was very pleased I made it to Nike Art Centre on this trip. I was inspired by the sculptures, paintings, batik and adire prints. I was educated on the Yoruba tribes and gods through art. It was a great day to start my creative quest.
If you wish to visit Abuja from London, British Airways runs direct flights daily from London Heathrow airport terminal 5. Emirates also run flights via Dubai. You may also take a flight directly to Lagos and then take a internal flight to Abuja, which takes about an hour,
Bye for now. Look out for my next post creative adventures or better still subscribe to jonaquestart art and travel blog to get interesting posts on my creative voyage.
Stop by our new gallery shop for Contemporary African Art and other paintings. Thank you.