I recently saw an interesting exhibition at the Baltic (the Modern Art Gallery in Gateshead) of the work of the Nigerian artist Ifeoma U. Anyaeji. This is her first exhibition in Europe and it is well worth seeing.
There are a number of sculptures in the show, some of them monumental in scale and all use textiles, along with other materials. The exhibition takes place in a triple room-height gallery, which allowed the inclusion of a very tall installation indeed – so much so, that I will have to show you the photo in two parts! The tall wrapped threads were made as an addition to the piece below, entitled Centre, Centre. (On the left of the second photo below, you can also see Swirl Bin, which makes reference to the ‘horn of plenty’ denoting abundance. This piece, made of woven plastic and of wood, speaks in addition of piles of discarded plastic rubbish.)
The long ‘threads’ of the piece shown above are tightly wrapped in the same way as hair is wrapped in traditional Nigerian hair-styling techniques. The photo below was included in the exhibition to demonstrate these styles which are now, sadly, becoming obsolete.
In other works, the ‘threads’ are then coiled and bound together into larger forms, as in the sculpture below, entitled Queen Eliza 2015.
A close look at the portion at the back reveals the intensity of the thread-wrapping, which creates a beautiful, lustrous undulating surface.
This unusual piece is a portrait of the artist’s mother, which makes reference to the sight of her mother wrapping and weaving her own hair into elaborate traditional hairstyles, whilst wearing both British and Nigerian fashions. (Britain was the colonial power in Nigeria until 1960.)
In the photo below you can see a small part of The Children of the First Daughter and see the mixture of intense wrapping and coiling which has created these blue forms.
The whole sculpture looks like this:
Ifeoma U. Anyaeji makes extensive use of materials that have been thrown away. Like many of us, she is disturbed by the growth in the use of plastics and by the effect that this is having on the environment. Her response is to treat plastic as a precious commodity and to use it as a material for making art, in which case its longevity is an advantage, not a disadvantage. The artist describes her method as ‘Plasto-art’. This monumental piece ‘When a king leaves, another replaces him – no condition is permanent’ is deliberately made with plastic bags that are non-biodegradable, along with twine and wire mesh. The plastic has been made both intriguing and beautiful; the textured shapes and basket-like forms draw the eye.
The title of the exhibition is Ezuhu ezu – In(complete). In effect, new sections were added to some of the pieces, once it was installed in the gallery: visitors to the Baltic were invited to donate non-biodegradable plastic bags for the artist to use in situ!
The exhibition continues until 22 September 2019. There is a link to the Baltic Gallery website at the end of this post.
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Beside going to art exhibitions, I have been busy designing. This is a new tea-towel design, entitled ‘Ginger Biscuits’. It is designed to fit on a fat quarter of the linen-cotton mix fabric supplied by Spoonflower. On it is a genuine 1940s recipe of my grandmother’s, written in her handwriting. You can find it here.
The link for Baltic is https://www.baltic.art