The body of work within my exhibition is connected to the theme of my Nigerian Igbo heritage. My initial idea to focus on my Igbo heritage developed after a vacation to Nigeria in which I experienced a diverse society. While in Nigeria I reconnected with my ethnicity which is Igbo. Additionally, while in Nigeria I experienced my relative’s culture in the villages in which they reside. While reconnecting with my relatives I listened to their stories, learnt their about my heritage and paid attention to their personal aspirations.
During my vacation to Nigeria I travelled to Benin and experienced culture art and artists. This experience had an impact on me artistically and provided a source of inspiration. One work I viewed was the ‘Queen Mother Pendant Mask’ which influenced me in the development of my ceramic sculpture. To create this work, I used earthenware clay and slab construction technique. Taking inspiration from the masks inlay motif, I pressed my own interpretation of the design into my mask. The mask colour was inspired by colour associated with Igbo culture including black, red & white, which illustrates the strength. The incorporation of the image of ‘women’ is rare in Nigerian art and when used is associated with power. This became inspiration for my exhibited mask in which I took inspiration from the symbolism of the original and use it to create a family dynasty pendant. The mask I created was also pivotal in relation to other works which are generally associated with Igbo woman and inspirational women relatives. With my mask, I hope to achieve a strong appearance and also adding aesthetic elements to the mask that represents the Igbo culture. Focusing on the power of the Igbo women I completed three photograms which celebrate strength & beauty. In Nigeria, females are fashion conscious in particular to the decorative fabric they wear and their hair styles. A Nigerian woman of style is viewed as vigorous, and due to this developed this photography-based series. I chose the technique of photograms as I was inspired by portrait photographer Adeola Olagunju. To link with family and Igbo woman I incorporated fabric associated with my female relatives as a collage base to depict identity. The theme of female identity was further explored within my candid photographs, acrylic painting and the relief print ‘ A Grandmothers Love’. These artworks portray my cousins and my maternal Grandmother. I selected acrylic paint to undertake the painting of my cousins as I aimed to incorporate colours, I associate with them. Rather than include facial features, I include text to draw meaning to the work. ‘A Grandmothers Love’ is a significate personal work, and links back to the authority of the Queen Mother Mask and the ceramic mask I created and other female related work within the exhibition, which follow the theme of powerful lgbo women. I selected the technique of lino relief printing for this portrait as I aimed to display the strength of my grandmother through the depiction of her facial contours through the use of line. My aim within this work was to depict my maternal grandmother as matriarch.
In considering my exhibition space, I decided to take a chronologically approach to create a visual journey for the viewer to experience and appreciate Nigerian culture, heritage and lgbo women. As the viewer enters my exhibition, they will experience a personal reflection of my Nigeria. As my grandmother is the matriarch of my Nigeria her portrait is positioned central to other works representing her standing and links to other works.
The other works that I selected for the display are two-dimensional, with the use of different mediums including digital photography, photograms, printmaking, drawing, collage and painting. I consider that using fabric design sacred to my family as an element within particular works, creates a personal flow of concepts throughout the exhibition. The purpose of these works was to showcase Nigerian culture, Igbo woman and my heritage which was illustrated in addition to artistic elements by including candid images. The vision for presenting my exhibition was to create a window into my heritage and culture. I am inviting the viewer to celebrate my Nigeria as a Igbo woman.