Yinka Shonibare to launch artist residency in Nigeria to boost African arts opportunities

End of Empire, 2016 © Yinka Shonibare / Stephen Friedman Gallery, London / Photo: Stephen White
Planned to coincide with the Art x Lagos fair in November 2021, British-Nigerian artist Yinka Shonibare's project will see the creation of two artist residencies in Nigeria. Through the Guest Artists Space initiative, Shonibare will offer free studio and project spaces to visiting artists in West Africa.


In addition to the residency centre in Lagos designed by Elsie Owusu Architects, which will feature a gallery, a studio and accommodation spaces — all barrier-free and wheelchair accessible — artists both emerging and established will be invited to the Nigerian state of Ogun. This second residency location is a farm in Ijebu, on which local villagers work the hundreds of cashew trees and other plants that grow there.


“I want the project to contribute to society, with ideas around sustainability,” commented Shonibare, who often addresses cultural identity, colonialism, and globalisation through his art. “I want to build an infrastructure for international artists to go to Nigeria and learn from local artists, and for artists on the ground to learn from international artists. The art world is growing in Nigeria, and there are a number of artists from the diaspora doing well internationally.” 


Funding for the project will primarily come from the Yinka Shonibare Foundation, with artists including El Anatsui, Njideka Akunyili Crosby, Olafur Eliasson and Antony Gormley enlisted as trustees. The artist is also collaborating with Phillips auction house on a fundraiser gala and auction which is likely to take place in London in May, with 18 artists having already agreed to donate works to the event.


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