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TNC Archive 2015
ART INTERVIEW

Chief Nike Davies-Okundaye

The Power Of One Woman 

Featuring photographs by Joanna Lipper

Originally published in 2015 during Chief Nike's London exhibition at the Gallery of African Art (GAFRA)

The Power of One Woman is an exhibition of works from acclaimed Nigerian Artist Chief Nike Davis-Okundaye and features works from across Chief Nike's wide-ranging work over the past 40 years. From early pen and ink works, delicate watercolours, to jewellery and Adire textiles.  This exhibition will also showcase never-before-seen photographs by Joanna Lipper, revealing new, groundbreaking dimensions of Nike's multi-faceted identity as a Yoruba Chief, daughter, mother, wife, artist, teacher, and social entrepreneur. 

 

Hi Chief Nike, thanks for talking to The New Current, how is everything going?

 

Splendid! Everything is going on well, by God’s grace. 

 

Your new exhibition opens this week, any nerves setting in?

 

Sure! I am making adequate preparations to see that all connected ends meet as planned. My immediate request is that God should direct the paths of art lovers and collectors to this Exhibition.

 

What does it mean for you to be able to bring your work to GAFRA?

 

Indeed, I am extremely gladdened and honoured that I was chosen by GAFRA - not because I am the best amongst other African artists that have been producing works over the years. I am super excited for having been given the privilege.

 

Tell me a little bit about The Power Of One Woman, how did it all come about?

 

The Power Of One Woman was derived from the diverse ideologies gotten from the strength absorbed from the different areas of specialisation in my artworks, which could be seen in the forms of bead making, watercolour/pen and ink, Adire patterns, and other art collaboration pieces using myself as an example. My creativity in the art has no restriction. This ‘power’ is also displayed in the managing of my art centre - Nike Art Gallery, and also in organising workshops for a large number of persons.

This is a very personal exhibition for you, what has it meant for you to be able share your work, life and experiences in such an open way?

Oh! The exhibition has been an extremely gratifying experience due to the fact that I love citizens from all parts of the universe to experience what I have to ‘dish and taste’ – experience my creativity and culture.

Feminine Power, 1994, Acrylic on canvas.jpg

"It gladdens my heart to know that an exhibition like this happened in my lifetime."

What was the inspiration behind this exhibition? 

 

The inspiration was derived by GAFRA to honour and celebrate my work and achievements.

 

What has it mean to have images taken by Joanna Lipper form a core part of the exhibition?

 

Indeed, I was overwhelmed with astonishment to see that Joanna Lipper, a renowned filmmaker, also does photography. In fact, I was honoured!

 

Will you collaborate in this way again in the future?


Of course I will. It is of great necessity for an artist. Collaboration is to your upper most advantage since it creates room for new ideology, in the sense that it gives birth to a new spirit in you. It aids your process of discovery.


How did it feel seeing it all come together? 

 

I feel excited. I would like to give big gratitude to GAFRA for granting my dearest desire. 

 

How much has your approach to your work changed over the years?

 

I have indeed discovered so much over the years, and sourcing materials from my immediate environment has also boosted my strength in diverse ways in terms of the creation of mixed media art pieces. Even the British Library were able to use some of our Adire textile designs in showing how symbols were used in communicating with an entire community. It gladdens my heart to know that an exhibition like this happened in my lifetime. Thanks to GAFRA for this wonderful opportunity.

 

Looking back would there be anything you would do differently going into this exhibition?

 

I would like to create and write about new fabric designs, and to teach many about textiles; and for the immediate, upcoming generation to equip and enrich their minds with the historical relevance of our traditions. 

'Determination', Oshogbo, Nigeria, 2010.jpg

What advice would you offer a young men and women growing up today?

 

My advice to them is that they should be steadfast and consistent in whatever spells excitement in their daily lives, to stay focused, and that hard work is always of high necessity. 


What has been the best advice that you've been given?

 

My father, in blessed memory, has given me the best advice in my life so far. It is – honesty. It has been my strongest weapon and it is the ladder that has lead me to the top as far as the pursuit of my dreams. Honesty is the reason for the position I have attained today.

 

And finally what do you hope people will take from the exhibition?

 

They will experience a new dimension of art. In recreating history for the audience to see, read and hopefully learn from, it will be passed down generation to generation.

 

As an example, a man approached me the other day, and sometime during our conversation he pointed out that as a result of viewing my works from past exhibitions he became an artist. I perceive that in the nearest future, job opportunities will spring up from the knowledge citizens have garnered from my research into art history, and from the resulting documentation and manifestation of it into my work. Who could have predicted that ‘indigo’ would be recognised in all parts of the world! It is all as a result of the documentation, preservation and promotion of our unique cultural heritage.