Mama Nike: A Champion of African Art

Spotlight on African Arts and Crafts with Mama Nike

Homecoming Voices: Nike Davies-Okundaye (2019)Original Source: Homecoming Festival

Mama Nike is one of the most central figures in African art and crafts. She has devoted her life's work to the revival of traditional art practices and the support of women in the craft industry. With a career spanning more than five decades and with over 100 international exhibitions, Mama Nike is one of Nigeria’s most well-known textiles artists and painters.

Nike Davies-Okundaye (2019) by @deeds_artOriginal Source: Homecoming Festival

Reviving Nigerian art
Chief Nike Davies-Okundaye, also known as Nike Davies, Nike Twins Seven Seven, Nike Olaniyi, and simply 'Mama Nike', is a Nigerian artist, gallerist and designer of batik and adire textiles. Born in 1951 in Ogidi, Kogi State, in North-Central Nigeria, Mama Nike was brought up in an environment where traditional weaving and dyeing practices were commonplace. In 1983, seeking to keep these traditions alive, Davies-Okundaye established the Nike Centre for Art and Culture in Osogbo.

Nike Davies-Okundaye (2019)Original Source: Homecoming Festival

Learning the art of Adire and Ase-Oke
Mama Nike's grandmother taught her the art of ‘Adire’ textile making, dyeing, weaving, painting and embroidery. Adire, an indigo-dyed cloth, was traditionally made by Yoruba women in southwestern Nigeria and it is this tradition which Mama Nike is sustaining. Mama Nike’s artworks are not just admired for their beauty but also the symbolism in the details.

Sculptures at Nike Centre for Art and Culture (2019)Original Source: Homecoming Festival

Nurturing next generation of creatives
As traditional craft practices were fading out in the country, Mama Nike began offering free training to young artists in visual, musical and performing arts. It became her mission to keep art and crafts alive, and help nurture new generations of creatives in Nigeria.

Nike Davies-Okundaye (2019) by @deeds_artOriginal Source: Homecoming Festival

Creativity at the heart of positive change
Adire is a craft which Mama Nike has revived through her art, workshops and galleries. She has passed on her skills to over 3000 Nigerians and empowered them to make a living out of creating Adire and Ase-Oke textiles.

Championing African art
In 1983, Mama Nike opened Nike Centre for Art and Culture just outside Lagos. It is one of Africa’s largest galleries with more than 8,000 artworks exhibited over four levels. In 1996, Mama Nike opened the Aso-Oke weaving centre in Ogidi-Ljumu which employs more than 200 women. In 2002, Mama Nike opened the Art and Culture Research Centre in Abuja. All three places are dedicated to the research, development and business of African art and culture.

Step inside Nike Centre for Art and Culture
The gallery holds an impressive collection of artworks from African artists spanning geography, generations and gender. Each artwork has been selected and curated by Mama Nike.

Nike Davies-Okundaye (2019) by @deeds_artOriginal Source: Homecoming Festival

"I built this place as a gallery after visiting America in 1974. I saw how they run a gallery there and they encouraged me to bring something back that would benefit our people. I love having a place like this, where artists can come and be happy, and see their work on the walls. The work of the artist is the voice of the artist."
Mama Nike

Join a unique tour of contemporary African art
The gallery assistants offer all visitors a unique tour where they tell the intricate stories of the artworks and artists. The tours start with a traditional Yoruba welcome song. The gallery is an incredible representation of contemporary art in Africa and a journey into the continents rich creativity.

Nike Davies-Okundaye (2019) by @deeds_artOriginal Source: Homecoming Festival

"My vision is to have a place for our people. A place where everyone can see the creativity of our own country. A place to see the way we do our tie dye, the way we eat and the way we live. That is the work I really want people to see."
Mama Nike

Nike Davies-Okundaye (2019) by @deeds_artOriginal Source: Homecoming Festival

"All our children have to come home. They have to rule this country. This country is for you people to rule. The old people are already at the departure hall!"
Mama Nike

Credits: Story

Founded in 2017, Homecoming is an annual festival of cultural exchange between Africa and the world. Held in Lagos, Nigeria, Homecoming puts a spotlight on African talent – from its up and comers to its biggest stars in Music, Fashion, Art, and Culture. Beyond the annual festival moment, Homecoming focuses its efforts on uniting a global community of musicians, artists, designers and creatives, through collaborations and partnerships between these trailblazers and international brands, institutions and thought leaders.

Find out more via our website, Instagram and YouTube Channel.

Homecoming thanks Mama Nike for her involvement in making this exhibit happen!

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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