An inter-cultural show titled ‘A Vernacular Homage to Architecture and Design’
blends the Nigerian and South-African cultural perspectives to celebrate the energy
of African Arts. Yinka Olatunbosun writes
They were both born in 1993. Nigeria’s Anne Adams and South Africa’s Lulama Wolf Miambo would never
have imagined that their paths would cross. But that happened recently at
Affinity Art Gallery in Victoria Island Lagos where both artists exhibit their
works within their socio-cultural contexts. The show is a product of the
collaborative project between the gallery and Undiscovered Canvas, a boutique
art gallery based in the French Riviera.
Amongst other things, the show highlights the importance of tradition, heritage, design and
sustainability with focus on social functions and information passed down
through generations by African matriarchs. In retrospect, the artists
investigate the period in history where art existed out of the necessity of who
people were, their lifestyles, cultures, spiritualism and when humanity was
intertwined in a rhythmic dance with nature.
Vernacular Architecture- a principal theme in Miambo’s work- explores the human
disposition in imaginative and stylized ways. Miambo, who works and lives in
Johannesburg interrogates the pre-colonial African experience through the
contemporary mind by studying the patterns used in decorating homes, similar to
the practice by the women of the Ndebele tribe of Southern Africa. These
patterns serve as a means of communication. Miambo’s approach to her new body
of works called “Remaining Vernacular’’ is reminiscent of the textures and
character of these South African modes of communication. With a background in
fine art and fashion, and inspiration by two avant-garde South African artists,
‘Mmakgabo Helen Sebidi and Ernest Mancoba, her interest in expressionist and
abstract art grew.
As for the pottery artist, Anne Adams, the works of the Cameroonian ceramist Natalie Djakou Kassi
opened her mind to the use of clay. She cited the importance of pottery in
Nigeria’s indigenous history with the example of Ladi Kwali, the only woman on
the Naira note who is a potter. Using the coil method to create edges and
silhouette, Adams’ intimacy with clay is therapeutic.
“I’m exploring my command of clay by pushing structural limits. I am also telling stories of the
precolonial era,’’ she revealed.
Coupez, Founder, Undiscovered Canvas is a South African who had lived in
Southern France for 11 years. She is keen on promoting young artists from
Southern Africa and other parts of the continent.
“I wanted Miambo’s work to communicate with another female artist in discussing vernacular
architecture. Personally, my favourite media for arts is clay because I think
that clay is one of the most beautiful materials coming from Africa. It is
dance between the creative, you can mold it, script it and tell stories on it.
For me, clay is quite important, when I met Tunde at Affinity Art gallery, we
came up with a collaboration. The idea is that the two will be talking together
as women. It is about transferring the knowledge. We want to have that conversation
between two women,’’ she said. In addition, Coupez argued that apart from gold
and oil, Africa’s cultural heritage is one of its biggest commodities which,
sadly is the least invested on.
The Founder, Affinity Arts Gallery, Olugbemiro Arinosho also explained that the gallery’s vision is
to celebrate African artists who have creative works on African narratives in
order to foster stronger relations between Africans.
“You can see the
relationship between the works even though they had not met each other. We want
to celebrate African artists whose works represent African narrative and we
want to represent emerging artists and support them. There is not enough
infrastructure to support the artist so we are trying to come up and let them
know that there is an avenue to showcase their works. We also want to champion
women because there are lots of talented women in the arts,’’ he said.
At the exhibition
which runs till August 28, Adams has 13 works while Miambo has no fewer than