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Textiles: Legendary Textile Artist Nike Davies Okundaye

Nike Davies Okundaye [Nigeria]

Reverse Applique - Wall Hanging

[Image credit: Reverse Applique Wall Hanging – Nike Centre for Art and Culture]

Inspired by her great-grandmother, a weaver and Adire textile maker/dyer, Nike Davies Okundaye is one of Nigeria’s most celebrated textile artists and painters, as well as a social entrepreneur and philanthropist whose passion and dedication towards reviving her country’s artistic and cultural heritage is truly inspiring. Traditions are so often passed down from generation to generation in the form of vocational hands-on-training, and this was the case for Nike who received no formal training, instead taking what she learned from her great-grandmother and developing her own skills and style. Recognised as an authority in traditional Nigerian textiles, Nike has conducted workshops, toured and exhibited her work extensively throughout her career, which spans over twenty years; and her artwork can be found in public and private collections across the globe.

Nike’s work has also been the subject of several academic and research papers; and a biography about the artist, ‘The Woman with the Artistic Brush‘ by Ms Kim Marie Vaz, has become recommended reading for students studying African Art and cultures in US-based universities. Realising that traditional methods of weaving and fabric dyeing in Nigeria were fading Nike began investing in the preservation of Nigeria’s rich arts and cultural heritage, founding five Nike Centre’s for Art and Culture, which are located in four Nigerian states; Lagos, Oshogbo, Ogidi-Ijumu and Abuja. Alongside each Art and Cultural Centre’s Nike also has four art galleries, entitled the Nike Art Galleries.

Nike Davies Okundaye - Women of Dignity
Embroidery Wall Hanging

[Image credit: top, ‘Women of Dignity’ Oil on Canvas; 
bottom, Embroidery Wall Hanging – Nike Centre for Art and Culture]

Starting in 1983 using the money she had made as an artist, Nike set-up the first Nike Centre for Art and Culture in Osogbo, Nigeria. The Centre provided free training to local Nigerians in various art disciplines and the first intake comprised twenty young girls whom Nike took in to learn a trade; giving them free food, free accommodation and free materials. To date over three thousand young Nigerians have benefited from the training on offer conducted through workshops where students learn about batik, indigo, and Adire, in addition to beadwork, sculpting, painting, embroidery, metalwork and carving to name a few. The reputation of the Centres has grown such that many African countries now send their students to study textile art there; students from Europe, the US and Canada are admitted; and international scholars and researchers regularly visit to learn first hand the traditional fabric processing and dyeing methods. In 1996 Nike established a textile weaving centre for the women of a local village in Ogidi-Ijumu, specialising in Aso-Oke, the centre works with more than 200 women. June 2002 saw Nike establish an Art and Culture research centre at Piwoyi Village in Abuja along with an art gallery and a textile museum. Looking for ways to transform a neglected art and cultural landscape, in 2009 Nike built and established a five-storey cultural art centre in Lekki Peninsula in Lagos, Nigeria. Open to the public the building is modern, light and airy and holdings regular exhibitions, and also houses Nike’s second textile museum, and the fourth Nike Art Gallery.

Additional details:
For further information about Nike Davies Okundaye visit: www.nikeart.com

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