Divinity & Ododo(2018) - BBZ BLK BK Alternative Graduate Show 2019. Copeland Gallery, London. Photo by Katarzyna Perlak
Divinity's body is made from fragments of the women before their tribulations, mistakes, growth and strength as they paved the way alongside the sprits of our mother ancestors in Divinity and on Earth. An art work can speak a thousand words but the relationship I have with the process and craftsmanship of the work holds as the strongest drive in my practice.
Inspired by the traditional art of the Bini people of Edo State (Nigeria) I use our beliefs, cultural knowledge and traditional values in my work as a way of articulating in the contemporary world my values and ideas of resilience, strength and power.
I used a mixture of copper and steel as a way of staying connected with the bronze of Benin and to represent the strength. The Leopard has roamed around in my life form a young age, from stories and houses I’ve visited, this was because the Oba our king is known as the ‘’Home leopard’’ one who roam between earth and the supreme world. Taken this belief and reflecting it upon the powerful strong women of colour around me that has change the way I live and see myself in the world through their messages left in books, in art, in sports, stories and political fight. For they are the ones who roam the earth with the spirit and soul of the leopard ‘’Ododo’’.
A colour for battles
A colour to consult the Gods
Parable: Ododo gha yo ugie, to yo owa
Red goes to war, it will come home
Ododo The Leopard is a representation of the fighting Spirit in women of colour. The work spins off the Traditional narrative from Edo State, Benin Kingdom in Nigeria on the significance of the spirit of the Leopard. I am from Benin and our King (Oba) is known and greeted as the '' Home Leopard '' because he is seen as a reflection of the Leopard and has Its strengths. With this project I took the understanding of the cultural meaning of the leopard and amplified it by using the alloy of bronze ( copper and steel ) because the kingdom is known for its production of the ''Bronzes of Benin " to narrate why women are the 'Home Leopards' they have that strength to bounce back and carry a society but are seen as the weaker gender around the world. To show their strength I used metal having to go through the process of creating a body out of smaller steel sheets to show strength in numbers and influences from all over. Reflecting on Queen Idia who went to battle several times as her son was a young king and women who had changed my perspective of what a woman should be, through their craft ,books, sports, my mothers, aunties and ancestors who have shown resilience and has made so many changes in society, clearing the path for me and other young children to stand strong and follow their dreams.