the Iledi Ontotoo complex after extensive damage caused to it by a tree that fell during heavy rainfall in March/April 2020. The ability to embark on the major work of restoration required began in 2014, when the Adunni Olorisha Trust (AOT) faced a crisis occasioned by the deterioration of artworks in the Osun Grove. Only two original members of the New Sacred Art Movement were active and able to work at the time, and these were Adebisi Akanji and Adeyemi Oseni. Other elderly artists had either passed away or had become too frail for the work. The AOT estimated that at least five more years of work were needed to save the art, but it did not have a young team trained. Only one young man, Adebisi Nurudeen, had been trained in this intricate art form. In 2015, the AOT launched the “Save Our Art: Save Our Heritage” Campaign under the Chairmanship of art patron and heritage enthusiast, Olufemi Akinsanya. The Trust set a goal to raise funds to recruit and train a team to complete all the outstanding restoration work in the Grove within five years. Cornerstones of the plan were five years of secure employment for team members together with consistent training. Sangodare Ajala, leader of the New Sacred Art Movement, artist, priest and son of Susanne Wenger, took on the challenge of recruiting the team and leading the restoration with the help of his able Administrator, Toyin Ajayi. Adebisi Akanji - master artist, mentored and trained by Wenger and who worked alongside her for 40 years - was part of the team along with his son, Nurudeen, who he had mentored himself. Adebisi Nurudeen, in turn, was willing to mentor others. A full team of 18 was recruited and, from 2016 to mid-2019, the team worked together full-time. After that, the AOT had to slow down the work for financial reasons, and the team only worked in rotation, part-time from mid-2019. A huge amount has been accomplished, but there is still more to be done. Happily, there is a trained team of skilled restoration artists, artisans and labourers now in place. It is on account of this that the restoration team has been able to take on the huge task of restoring Iledi Ontotoo after tree damage.


  • Title: Illedi Ontotoo: Damage To Structure
  • Date of photography: 2020

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