13 Inspiring Nigerian Women to Read up on…

Illustrations

Black history month was a few weeks ago. As it was celebrated, discussed and observed, I had found myself diving head first into creating digital illustrations of successful and historically impactful women that have been revered specifically in Nigeria. The reason behind this is because the whole theme is kind of a trigger for me.

Growing up in Nigeria, any advice given to you as a woman usually started with “…when you marry”. Now, I am not against good advice in any way, but the society made women feel like their greatest accomplishment was to get married and to stay married. Yet, history is full of women’s names in tiny bubbles that quickly filtered through and disappeared tas one reads through books and publications. If their names were ever mentioned, it felt like it was grudgingly put in, usually with the most unepic achievement behind their names. So, I went on a researching spree online and found these amazons that wake me up I when I feel myself not working towards my potential.

Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti

All I was taught about her was that she was the first woman to drive a car in Nigeria. NotFunmilayo-Ransome-Kuti that that doesn’t have a sparkly quality to it, she was a woman that did so much more. Dubbed the lioness of Lisabi by the West African Pilot in 1947, she represented women of all classes in the fight over taxation, women’s interests and more. Honoured with the Order of the Niger and the Lenin Peace Prize, Founder of the Federation of Nigerian Women Societies, she was a Co-founder of the Abeokuta Women’s Union which became the Nigerian Women’s Union then the Federation of Nigerian Women’s Society. Without her, there would be no legendary Fela and she was the aunt to the famous Wole Soyinka himself. I confess that I felted cheated when I read up more on her and how many more girls would have borrowed some of her gutsy strength while growing up. (Photo ref: Google)

Women’s Market Rebellion of 1929

Aba-women's-revolution-When I think of a movie plot that would be epic, have stinger one-liners, fast paced, colorful with a touch of Tarantino in it, these ladies would be a great story to tell. In a protest against the restrictions being placed on their role in the society, the women from the eastern part of Nigeria rose up in protest.
As fiery as your moms are (African mothers usually are), imagine 10 thousand of them pouring out their energy to a collective cause. The range of “What Would Jesus Do” was covered quickly. From peaceful protests to all out flipping tables and even the destruction of court houses. This went on until they got what they wanted, however, not without casualties on both sides. It was a time of change as this opened up political avenues to women that didn’t have access to it based on societal norms as well as women warrant chiefs, a position men were appointed to in Colonial Nigeria. Yep, an epic movie this would be. (Photo ref: Google)

Evi Edna Ogholi

In the 1980s, Ogholi gave us birthday crashers “Happy Birthday“, the only birthday song that Nigerians Evi-Edna-Ogholishould ever play (just my opinion). , It was a sudden phenomenon as to how she dropped off the face of…everything. We literally didn’t hear anything from her again.
Though now living in Paris and still making music with the release of her Peace and Love album in 2016, her music was most likely a gateway for many to Reggae.
Her smile captured hearts, From Jealousy to No place like home, her reggae vocals wafted through open car windows as you were stuck in traffic, her lyrics were easy to remember, even her music videos were fun. (Photo ref: Google)

Margaret Ekpo

Margeret-EkpoAfter being the only woman to attend a political rally, she believed that women should also be part of the growing movement of civil right activities. After teaming up with Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti over the Enugu coal mine protests and establishing the Aba Township Women’s Association, she had rallied up enough women voters to outnumber the men voters in 1955. She was a Civil right activist, Social mobilizer and Member of the Regional House of Assembly in 1961. This illustration was made with ink then a little flair was added digitally. (Photo ref: Google)

Chief Nike Davies-Okundaye

A product of the Oshogbo Art School, Okundaye has taught all around the world the artChief-Nike-Davies-Okundaye and techniques of the traditional textile and fabric design. Some of her works hang in the Smithsonian. She has had over 102 solo exhibitions and 36 group art exhibitions. CEO of Nike Center for Art and Culture, Oshogbo, Owner/Curator of the Nike Art Galleries. Yeye Oba of Ogidi-Ijumu, Yeye Tasase of Oshogbo. It hurts to know that I have never had the chance to go to any of her galleries though a friend did study at her art school so I am claiming the connection (wishful thinking) Though let me take it one step further, I hope to have some of my work at her gallery one day. (Photo ref: Google)

Balaraba Ramat Yakubu

Balaraba-Ramat-YakubuOnce a child-bride herself at the age of 13 and sent back “in disgrace” after a year, her father agreed to let her attend sewing classes. Unknowningly to him, she was taught how to read and write Hausa. This opened her world to us as she went on to become one of the most popular Hausa writers of the “Littattafan Soyayya” (Books of Love) Genre.
The most captivating thing about her books is that the love story was used as a vehicle to actually hit major issues such as child-marriage and the restrictions placed on womenfolk in the northern region of Nigeria. Her first novel, “Alkahi Kuykuyo“, published in 1988, has been translated and published in English. Others such as “Juyin Sarauta” have graced the screens and won Film awards. She wears many hats as a Film Producer, director and screen-writer in Kannywood (a Nigerian film industry that produces solely Northern Nigerian films) and also a Trauma Counselor. (Photo ref: Google)
Aisha Bakari Gombi

She would make another epic movie. Born into a hunting family, she has used the skillsAisha-Bakari-Gombi as a hunter to track and rescue Boko Haram victims as well as capture many of the insurgents. Her and her team, in spite of limited resources, have played a vital part in the fight against Boko Haram, recovering and protecting villages in the Sambisa Forest. She also acts as a traditional healer for her band as she prepares balms and amulets from the flora of the land. She has become a myth of legend as her story is a tale of hope and courage to many in the North Eastern region of Nigeria. Having her in the front lines encouraged more women to join the hunter’s guild and actively take part in rescue missions. She is the Queen Hunter and the Commander of her team. (Photo ref: Rosie Collyer/Al Jazeera)

Tara Fela Durotoye

Tara-Fela-DurotoyeThe average Nigerian loves to look good and make-up is in almost every Nigerian woman’s starter kit. By creating the first bridal directory and offering her bridal Make-up services, she, more or less, is the creator of slay queens. From opening her make-up studio to the launch of the first make up school in Nigeria, she is a catalyst that pushed the Nigerian cosmetics industry into what it is today.
The evolution from Tony Montana white powder, gazal and those green-to-red lipsticks to face-beats of several layers of foundation has paved the way for job creation and self-employment for many through training and franchise opportunities. She is a Lawyer, an Entrepreneur and the Founder and CEO of House of Tara International (perfume, studio and make-up line). (Photo ref: TY Bello)

Ameyo Stella Adadevoh

A knight in every way. She correctly diagnosed a foreigner infected with Ebola and putStella-Adadevoh her life on the line to ensure that the suspect could not leave the isolation area she insisted on. Her professionalism ensured that the right information was dispersed through the right channels and succeeded in preventing the spread of the virus. Although she saved the nation from a devastating epidemic, she succumbed to the Ebola virus on the 19th of August, 2014. She was the Lead Consultant Physician and Endocrinologist of the First Consultant Medical Center, Lagos and should never be forgotten. She was a wife and a mother and now a hero to Nigeria. (Photo ref: Google)
Leah Sharibu

Leah-SharibuFebruary 19th would mark a year of which Leah has been held captive by Boko Haram insurgents. Kidnapped alongside over 100 female students from the Government Girls’ Science and Technical College, Dapchi in Yobe State, Nigeria, 15 year old Leah was held back after the release of the students a month after. The insurgents’ reason: she refused to deny her Christian faith. The Federal Government denied a rumour of her death a few days ago claiming it as a campaign smear even though it took months before the President himself spoke directly with her parents after her capture.
Seen as a modern day apostle for those that share her faith, she is one face out of thousands that have had their lives disrupted due to terrorism. She should not have to bear this cross and the voice of many are calling out for her release. She should be at home, studying, growing and evolving into the woman she is meant to be: student, teenager, daughter. (Photo ref: Google)

Chioma Ajunwa Opara

Although she started as a member of Nigeria’s women’s football team, The Falcons, sheChioma-Ajunwa-Opara transitioned to track and field sports, specializing in the 100m, 200m and long jump. Though started off great with many wins especially in Long Jump, she was placed on a 4 year ban after a failed drug test despite maintaining her innocence in 1992. She went on to win Gold for Long Jump at Atlanta 96, making her the first and only individual Olympic gold medalist from Nigeria. An ardent campaigner against drug use in sports based on her experience, she is a police officer and Member of the Order of Niger. (Photo ref: Google)

Uche Pedro

Uche-PedroAfter studying Business Administration at the Ivey School of Business, University of Western Ontario, Canada, she started blogging as a hobby focusing on the fashion, photography, wedding and celebrity industry in Nigeria. This grew to become BellaNaija.com (@Bellanaijaonline), a lifestyle and entertainment website that pulls an average of 15 million viewers per month. Let’s just say that your wedding being featured on BellaNaija gives you bragging rights for life. She is a Fellow of TEDGlobal, an associate of the Nigeria Leadership Initiative. She received the Young Media Entrepreneur of the Year of Future Awards Africa in 2013 and was named one of the 30 Most Promising Young Entrepreneurs in Africa by Forbes Magazine, 2014. Best African Blogger for Kids Choice Awards, 2016. (Photo ref: Google)

Betty Irabor

From freelance writing for newspapers such as “This Day” and “Vanguard” and being a Betty-Iraborcolumnist for “Black & Beauty” Magazine, Irabor launched Genevieve Magazine in 2003. I, personally, was really excited about @genevievemagazine cos it was within my price range(student 😁) and It’s content were written specifically for someone like me. But I digress. Back to Aunty Betty. Apart from making a difference in the print industry, she used her platform to build an awareness around breast cancer prevention, early detection and treatment through the Genevieve PinkBall Foundation. In 2018, she also brought a lot of attention to mental health through “Dust to Dew”, a book about the journey of her struggles and fight over depression. Her book opened avenues for the discussion around Mental Health conditions and awareness. Another goal of mine is to illustrate for the magazine one day…soon…(Photo ref: Google)

And here they are. 13 women that should be given chapters in every Nigerian history books. I started this as fluke really, but I was able to gain a lot more than just better drawing skills. I have always said that my art was inspired by women yet, it somehow feels shallow now when I think about it as women are more than just muses that we try to capture just a part of their presence in our work. Each one is a universe of nuclear power just searching for the right place to blow up. And I love it.

I hope to make illustrations in a different style or medium with other epic women I have come to admire. That would be fun.

Strong Shoulders, Heavy Heads, Soft Hearts: How I made my Contemporary Wall Art.

Wonderings of a Mixed Media Artist

Women. I paint them, sculpt them, still trying to understand them. Which is funny as I am one myself. But I think that is the beauty of us, the ladies. As we are all different, there is always another way, another view, another perspective on how the world works or feels. But one thing that has always been clear is the strength of a woman. Whether used as a chain of guilt or as the wind to soar, that is a tagline that has followed womanhood.

So, an idea came to me after feeding off social media about this year’s women’s day and how women helping women kept coming up and the process to move beyond breaking the glass ceiling. it was my version of women working together to make the world a better place. Yes, it may seem a bit sappy, but I do believe that we would get there, hopefully in my time. And luckily for me, I got a 20″ by 20″ canvas during one of my earlier art supplies runs to Michael’s so I started working immediately.

After making a quick sketch and some extra touch ups on how to make my piece, I got to work. I drew out the shape of canvas first on a cardboard then drew out the designs I wanted and cut them out differently. I wanted to have 6 forms, all different shapes but still similar in form. These forms are the bases of my armatures which I added jewelry wire to give them necks. Then I covered my armatures with paperclay I made using Jonni Good’s recipe, also giving each of them different designs all over before they dried.

I was really happy with how they all turned out. Though similar in form, I wanted each of them to still have a uniqueness to them. I wanted to show women that dance to their own beat or flow according to their course.

Also had a little photoshoot with them as well.

And while the women dried, I worked on the centre of my piece, the earth.

One feature I wanted to add was how Waja women from Gombe state carry their wares. They carry it on their shoulders, not on their heads as other ethnic groups do. Truthfully, I thought it was just the Gbagyi women of Abuja that carried their wares that way. So it was a pleasant surprise hearing that Waja women did this too. From what I heard, it is because the head carried the weight of wisdom so the shoulder helps in carrying the weight of materialistic things. And in a way, it seems like that is how women seem to be. They carry the weight of the world on their shoulders.

Paperclay Earth

Mini Photoshoot of Paperclay Woman Form

I wanted this to be a piece that reflects the innate power of women. There is a reason why if new ideas are going to be implemented in a society, women are targeted. Women are usually the carriers and enforcers of societal rules and values because they are seen as the caregivers of the next generation. It is probably one of the reasons why women that are different are often feared, ostracized and in some cases, killed because of the control they wield over change.

Once all the pieces were dried and painted, I arranged and glued them on the already painted canvas and allowed them to dry as well.

Strong Shoulders, Heavy Heads, Soft Hearts

I am happy with this piece. I can see it gracing the walls of an influencer of the world Like Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie or the cozy santuary of a home maker. To me, it showed how different every woman is but at the same, how each woman wants to play her part in the world she is in. But not just for herself, but for her fellow sister as well. It is also the reason why I gave them necks that allow their heads to almost lean on each other. A shoulder to carry the world and a chest to rest their heads.

It is an ode to my mothers, my sisters, my cousins and my friends. The women who have always been there in my life. Those whose stories laid the foundation of strength and those whose lives were painted with vibrant colors.

 

Strong Shoulders, Heavey Heads, Soft Hearts Wall Art

 

How to Make This Easy Peasy Fabric Hair Bow

Tutorial Tuesday

The weather is so much nicer now. Even though it is my number 1 go to small talk topic, I do seem to talk about the weather alot. Coming from Nigeria, hot was the usual and there were other topics that circled around the woes of every nigerian. Actually, thinking about it now,  we don’t do so much small talk. It was always straight forward. I mean, the heat already makes you cranky so no beating around the bush.

But I digress. We have entered the season of weddings, parties and all out fun days. I can wear my hair out again, rock an afro or twists, take a shower without a shower cap and also accessorise without having to consider a winter hat. Yes, wearing a crown would be easier these days. But as I haven’t made my crown yet, I do have this fabric hair bow I made last year.

I made this fabric hair bow to go with an Ankara dress I sewed and is wearable.

And I absolutely love how it came out. It was quick, easy to make and you can practically use anything that comes your way for this. Plus, who doesn’t love a chance to dress up 😉 ?

So, this is how to make this fabric hair bow. These are the steps below. And you can easily download this tutorial to always have it with you any day, anytime.

Now that you know how to make the lovely fabric hair bow, don’t be shy and share your version of your lovely hair piece at the comments below. I would love to see it.

Have fun and God bless.

Busy Busy Easter.

Queen of Hearts Project, Wonderings of a Mixed Media Artist

Happy New Month, everyone. I hope you had a wonderful Easter.

Mine was busy as I was making some postables from some of the hearts I made for my Queen of Hearts Project like the one featured in this postable. I also just signed up for a pop-up event and realised that I don’t have as much as I should for that day. So, I got the engines revving and now working away at my small studio. Here are some things I have been working on:

I really love these balls. Made from styrofoam and paperclay, I want to make them as sets of 3 or 4, depending on how much time I have. But so far, the different colors really give a nice variety. I also gave them hooks so that they can be hung as well either from a tree or off the ceiling.

These guys are as cool as funk. They look like they should be an album cover. Also made from Styrofoam and paperclay. These would be great as mantle pieces.

Still working on this set of recycled bottle art. When I doubt what I want to do, flowers are always my saving grace. These are going to be poppies and I would like to give them a soft pastel color background…that’s the plan.

So, these are the projects keeping me busy right now. I still have alot to do like making their carry-on bags and more. This will be my first event of the year so I really want to start it off right.

Have a wonderful new month. I hope you get to achieve alot in this new month. We have officially entered the second quarter of the year. 2018 is whizzing past quickly. Well, here is to a productive April.

 

A Gathering of Hearts

Queen of Hearts Project

Happy new month. March came in quickly and didn’t come alone. Snow and chilly winds got me all snuggly in bed as I watched the Ten Commandments and Prince of Egypt for like the 100th time for each. It was the type of day to just relax, have a cup of hot chocolate and catch up with your body. So while I daydream a bit, let me show off some progress I have made with my hearts.

There are some hearts that aren’t really based on my emotions or feelings of that given day. These are generally from ideas that came up and I thought to see how they would turn out.

My King Amsa was triggered by the song, King Of My Castle, by Cris Brann. It kept playing my head even though I can swear that  haven’t heard it in years. So, I am the Queen of my own castle…and hearts.

A gold filled heart that was triggered by a sad story I read online. I don’t remember all the details but it was about a girl who was jilted by her lover and it was such a deep hurt, I felt it. So in hopes that I could send a message out to hurting hearts, I made this one. Sometimes, a heart may need to be wounded to show it’s capacity and potential.

This one is about self care. Basically, see your heart as a garden, water it, tend it, feed it with the good stuff and let it flourish, bathed by your passions and self love.

I use a makeshift palette by using cling film wrapped around cardboard when I paint. It has worked so well for me and the paint leaves behind a story of my color choices in my paintings and sculptures.

The tired Traveller is a reminder of my bus rides during the christmas holiday that I mentioned in an earlier post. I knew I would look back to those days and laugh so I gave her a nice bus, painted yellow as a shout out to Lagos Public Transportation, the all enduring Danfo bus.

Ok, I guess they do have some emotions attached to them. In some ways, my heart had to find a way to get into all of them.

So, have a wonderful March ahead.

 

Black Heart Woman

Queen of Hearts Project

Black Heart Man‘ by Bunny Wailer was a song that played quite alot when I lived with my mom. I never really listened to the words but hummed along as it filled the living room and she danced away to it. It seems quite ironic to dance to it now that I am older and have seen the lyrics of the song. It’s quite dark, warning children to be wary of ‘Stranger Danger’ but also saying that anyone can become ‘Stranger Danger’, given the right environment. Stranger Danger in the sense that there is a villian in each and every one of us.

Too dark? Sorry, not trying to pull you there. But see how easy it was to fall into that black hole as memories of nasty experiences spring up in your head. A neighbour was mean to you as a kid, a cousin accused you of something you didn’t do and all those horror stories that you keep locked away at the deepest part of your soul because if you don’t, you mirror your demons.

But…

You don’t become them. You turn that blackness into soil, ready to take in every seed and make them bloom into creatures of beauty. I know. I have lived it because I knew that my life could have been better. However, the past is the past and if I wallow in the mud instead of turning it into my garden bed, they win, right?

So my heart is a garden. Lilies and roses blossom side by side, sunflowers follow the light of my soul, daisies and violets dance along with the wind of hope.

Yours can bloom too.

Sand in the Cracks of My Heart

Queen of Hearts Project

The weather has been dreadful. The sun has been shy lately, hiding like a child, eagerly waiting to be found but still wants to win their game of hide and seek. And while listening to Ruby Gyang’d new song, Oya Dance, I must say that I miss warmth.

Growing up in a tropical country, Nigeria, Canada makes me miss extremely hot days and warm swimming pools. I remember days as kids when extended family members all gathered in Lagos and we go to the beach. My dad would always caution us to stay to away from the waves but my uncle, my dad’s younger brother, was more of the risky one. He would splash and carry us in while keeping an eye out for my dad. Those are fun memories.

But my most recent memory of the beach are of the summers I got to spend in Italy. I fell in love with the clear blue water, the hot sand and the whiffs of baberqued meat as we travelled along the coast of  the Ionian sea. I amsure you now understand why my heart yearns for summer heat.

Well, as I cannot be there physically, I made a version of a happier me by the sea.

This was made from tissue paper, a cereal box cut out of a heart. After giving the cut out 2 layers of paper, I glued up tissue paper to make the waves. I painted really tiny versions of myself and my husband, basking under the sun like lazy lizards. I finally painted my beach, added some glitter to make it shine under a light and also painted up my sea with foamy waves.

This is a cute heart and right now, I envy tiny me as she is captured in that tranquil moment forever.

 

 

Saved By The Brush

Wonderings of a Mixed Media Artist

I love abstract paintings. The way colors seem to clash but yet work together to draw your eyes to certain areas and the varying emotions that come up for everyone that sees them. I also believe that the act of painting abstract for most artists is a liberating, explosive feeling. For me though, it was the scariest thing.

Staring at a blank canvas is a BP rising thing. It’s like the point of no return once you throw anything on it and all you can do is go forward from there.

I think conquering that is a great thing though. It allows one to let go and set free. Though I am self taught, I tend to be rigid in my paintings as I can be a borderline perfectionist. I need to have the perfect stroke, the perfect lines, the perfect blends that are in my head and I have to do it quickly so I get constricted…which is why I started watching other artists paint.

One artist I love is Amira Rahim. Her blend of color and bold strokes shows a freedom and flow in her work. I got the chance to sign up for one of her online live classes and It was a good investment for me. I started the class with this painting as she asked that we work on an older piece.

20180124_112035

Some progress done…

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some more progress done…

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and the final piece.

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I am so proud of this piece. This is a representation of me letting go. I am now so excited about making more abstract art. I would love to combine it with paper and other things or material that would give different textures. That would be fun to work on. But in the meantime, I shall bask in the colors of letting go.

 

 

 

Home Is Where The Heart Is…

Queen of Hearts Project

After alot of travelling for the holidays, from London, Ontario to Boston, Massachusetts then Minneapolis, Minnesota and back to Canada, I can definitely say that I was physically exhausted. But my heart was full. This was the first time I got to have a lot of family members around me and I cherished every moment of it.

However, every story has an end and my very own Hallmark version of a great holiday shuttled back to reality as I found myself in many greyhound buses in the cold winter.

Even though I miss those moments, they definitely made my heart bigger. The winter didn’t seem as harsh and I felt like home wasn’t as far anymore. I have people at this part of the world that have known me for forever. And that is what this heart is.

I enjoyed making this because it has a mix of different elements. I used party tissue paper and made 2 layers by gluing two sheets together. I wanted it to have a see through feel that would seem delicate but strong enough to not bend over under the weight of the added elements.  After the sheets dried, I cut out 2 hearts and also cut out a tiny window almost at the middle of each of  them. I made two tiny paintings (I think I should consider making tiny paintings. So Kawaii.) and placed them at the windows, located where the heart would be on a person’s body.

   

One painting represents the people that are dear to me tug my heart strings. The other is a depiction of the location I call home with a little touch of politcal humor in it.

The last touch is the fringe I made with white yarn. After I glued down the miniature paintings to one layer, I added strings of yarn all round the edge then placed the second layer of tissue on top then left it under a heavy book to make sure it dries well.

I used watercolor to give it a splash of color andthen combed out the strings to make it fluffy. I had to give a layer of white acrylic paint on it to cover my mistakes with the watercolor so the see through was over shadowed. But it stll looks good. Just what I wanted it to look like.

A nice represantation of my loved ones.

‘The Heart of Man Is Very Much Like The Sea…’

Queen of Hearts Project

When I started making hearts for 2018, my aim was to make it like a journal. Everyday, I draw out what the day felt like to me and if I can, create it. And it was a grand plan and I started off strong, drawing out my feelings, feeling like the most accomplished artist that has ever lived as I imagined what shall become of my hearts at the end of the year. And yes, it didn’t take long before it hit me that I counted and groomed all my eggs before they hatched. But let’s not focus on that right now. Instead, allow me to take you through some of the hearts I already have.

Van Gogh once said

“The heart of man is very much like the sea, it has its storms, it has its tides and in its depths it has its pearls too.’

These words rang true as I designed this specific heart.

Something dissapointing happened. I cried my eyes out but at the same time, the urge to throw so much emotion at the situation came rushing in as well. There I was, anger, pain and love clashing and storming in me and yet, I had to take control over them as I acknowledged my life experiences. How different choices could have led my life down a different path. This heart’ represents that moment for me. The grey is for the storm, with red rhinestones that remind me of precious moments and the chains of beads are my tears (This was a really literal piece).

I love this piece alot as it remnds me that life is a mix of such days and even those are precious too.