Inside the Yoruba Textile Art of Adire with Chief Nike Davies-Okundaye

Chief Nike Davies-Okundaye is one of Nigeria’s most renowned visual artists and cultural icons. Born in Ogidi, Kogi State, to an artistic family with a long history of textile craftsmanship, the 63-year-old designer and painter spurred the contemporary revival of traditional textile production in Nigeria. Each piece over the span of Davies-Okundaye’s four-decade career has been imbued with her keen eye for dynamic composition and her vivid imagination which draws heavily on themes from both Yoruba folklore and her own life experiences.

In addition to her work as a cultural preservationist, Davies-Okudaye is a social entrepreneur, philanthropist and artistic matriarch. Since 1983, she has established museums, vocational arts training institutions, and textile design centers in Nigeria. Her work is currently on display in a retrospective at London’s Gallery of African Art (through November 22nd). Okayafrica caught up with Davies-Okundaye at her workshop and cultural center in Osogbo, Nigeria, where she shared a few thoughts with us on Yoruba textile design and her work in the revitalization of the genre. Read the full Q&A below and click through the gallery above for a preview of the London exhibition and photos from our trip to Osogbo.

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