In moving exhibition, Uhunmwen Vbe Ehinmwen… Iyase-Odozi explores Benin iconography, Edo Batik
For the exhibiting artist of travelling historical royal solo art show/ exposition, Dr. Princess Theresa Iyase-Odozi, the imperative of researching and promoting Benin arts and culture cannot be over emphasised.
In her speech at the show, which held at the National Commission for Museum and Monument Lagos, recently, she revealed that the first leg of this ‘Travelling Solo Exhibition,’ the planning of which had been in the works since 2017, held in Benin City from October 26 to November 30, 2019.
Titled, Uhunmwen Vbe Ehinmwen/ Master of the Circled Cross In Benin Kingdom, she said the first outing was a huge success, not just because of the large number of personalities and foremost artists, who graced the opening ceremony despite the rainfall on that day, but the appreciable number of visitors who showed up in subsequent days.
Princess Theresa said the exhibition focuses on Benin iconography and Edo Batik. “It consists of five components: mixed-media paintings; art installations; Edo Batik Textiles; an empowerment workshop; and the publication of an art journal containing scholarly works on topical issues in Benin iconography.”
She added that the Edo Batik Textile wax prints fabrics integrate icons found on ancient Benin Kingdom relics and artefacts of over 500 years old. In embarking on this project, she revealed: “I was inspired and encouraged by the new dawn of revival and promotion of the rich cultural heritage initiated by His Royal Majesty, Omo N’Oba N’Edo Uku Akpolokpolo Ewuare II, Oba of Benin, and his plan to establish an academy for arts.”
She said, “my aspiration is not only to mount the third leg of this moving art exhibition in Abuja later this year, but also to display these works for public viewing in many museum across the globe, particularly, those associated with Benin art and Edo Batik clothing culture.”
Speaking on challenges, she said, “this moving art project has turned out to be both ambitious and expensive. Accordingly, since 2019, I sought financial support from both government and private sector sources but have been disappointed by all except two family friends who supported us. Thus my husband and I have had to fund this expensive project almost completely from our personal coffers.”
In his speech, Founder OYASAF Foundation, Omooba Yemisi Shyllon, said, “iconography is a powerful means of communication in Nigerian traditional society. But its importance goes beyond communication and encompasses the very essence of our identity as a people, which needs to be inculcated in the younger generations of Nigeria. I highly appreciate and commend the Benin iconography project of Dr. Iyase-Odozi and I hope it will receive the support it richly deserves.”
Similarly, Prof. Gregory Akenzua said in the art scene, Iyase-Odozi had established herself as a true daughter of Benin and a veritable ambassador of Benin culture.
On her part, Mrs. Nike Okundaye said: “I am proud and delighted to have been her mentor all theses years and I feel confident that she is on the path to the mastery and becoming an ambassador of art in due course…”
President/ Founder ANAP Foundation and Chairman ART X Collection Limited, Atedo Peterside, was also in attendance.