Diaspora-Artists logo


Jessica Hemmings

Jessica Hemmings, wrote a substantial feature, Material Meaning, for  Wasafiri, Vol. 25, No. 3 September 2010, pp. 38-46.

Material Meaning was perhaps the most successful text that sought to place Yinka Shonibare’s work into the context and company of other artists (all of whom were born in African countries and used textiles – or what could be interpreted as textiles - within their practice). Material Meaning discussed the work of Shonibare, Nicholas Hlobo, Owusu-Ankomah, Nnenna Okore, and El Anatsui, in considered and convincing tones. Hemmings noted, “The artists all have ties with the vast region of sub-Saharan Africa, to cultures with extensive and discrete textile traditions”

Hemmings went on, “Yinka Shonibare has made the complex history of batik cloth the hallmark of his practice and he is one example of an artist whose use of textiles deserves consideration. But this example is far from isolated: Nicholas Hlobo often makes use of rubber and leather, incorporating stitches with ribbon into two and three-dimensional work; Owusu-Ankomah paints the human form camoflaged by the adinkra symbols of printed textiles; Nnenna Okore’s installations using paper and thread are marked by a distinct ‘textile sensibility’; El Anatusi’s (sic) sculptures made from recycled metal bottle caps suggest giant pieces of strip-woven cloth. The textile may not be the central motivation of these artists’ practices, but consideration of the messages the textile conveys is crucial to a fuller appreciation of the content of their work.”

Related items

click to show details of Material Meaning - Wasafiri

»  Material Meaning - Wasafiri

Article relating to a publication, 2010