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Fresh breath for Benin Adire in Iyase-Odozi’s tour show

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When GreenHouse Art Empowerment Centre starts its tour event later in the year, preservation of Benin cultural values will come into focus. Featuring tie & dye workshops, exhibitions and presentation of a journal on art with the theme, Benin Iconography/Semiotics – Uhunmwen whe Ehinmwen (Master of the Circled Cross), the tour begins in Lagos before moving to Benin City and later Olambe, Ogun State for the final leg.

According to the centre’s founder, Princess Iyase-Odozi, the moving show is also being organised to celebrate and preserve Nigeria’s art history, as well as revive the dying culture of tie & dye in Benin.

Iyase-Odozi said the tour is a fulfilment of her commitment to the arts. According to her, “this commitment includes, regular mounting of shows, joining in the commemoration of the Igue Festival with an art installation, upholding the Benin identity and re-enacting the aesthetic and religious significance of Ebe Ewere (Ewere Leaf) used during the holy festival, by highlighting its relevance.”

She said venues for the tour are, Nike Arts and Culture Centre, Lekki, Lagos from December 8 to 15, 2018, and later to an unconfirmed venue in Benin. The Benin leg ends in January 2019. GreenHouse Art Empowerment Centre, Olambe, Ogun State, however, would play host to last leg of the tour in February 2019.

“The three main dimensions to this project include, mounting of visual art-works, a workshop on, ‘The role of women and girlchild in the production of tie & dye in Benin and approaches to bridging gender disparity’, and lastly, a publication of an art journal with contributions from international scholars,” Iyase-Odozi explained. “The exhibition is based on Benin Kingdom and focuses on the much celebrated Igue Festival and Benin iconography, semiotics and motifs.”

Continuing on Igue Festival period, she noted that the highly symbolic leaves of Ebe Ewere is significant for purification and purgation of the land, including its people (Ugie-Edorhia).To depict tradition in the context of celebrating the Igue festival, Iyase-Odozi’s work envisages the conceptualisation and display of what the artist describe as a huge art installation with totems.

“More importantly is the discovery of the sign of the Holy Cross of equal arms in some of the Benin plaques and works of art traced to the Benin massacre in 1897,” the artist, who is currently a doctoral candidate , said. The education and documentary aspects will highlight Benin’s cultural value, particularly, in sculptures, which dates back to the 14th century.

“The cross was so prominent and clearly showed the involvement of the king (Oba Esigie), who was said to be a member of the Masters of the Circled Cross. My paintings would exhume the relationship between ‘Benin Court Art and Spirituality’,” she said.For documentation and information aspects of the project, a journal, known as the GreenHouse Art Journal, volume II, 2018 edition, comes into focus. It will be presented and reviewed at the workshop.

The tie & dye aspect of the tour will take the formats of workshop and exhibitions. Its focus includes, hidden semiotics found in Benin sculptural works. This will be translated to textile designs on fabrics through the art of tie & dye. The workshop is targeted at women and female children in Benin. Finished textile designs and art works will be exhibited alongside the installation show.Iyase-Odozi, an artist, educator, curator, author, visual art empowerment expert and community leader, is a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) candidate at the University of Lagos.


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