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SOKARI DOUGLAS CAMP’S FIGHTING STEEL

The October Gallery’s ‘Primavera’ exhibition will display the impressive artworks of British Nigerian sculptor, Sokari Douglas Camp, who has committed herself to making the world a better and fairer place.

The October Gallery’s ‘Primavera’ exhibition will display the impressive artworks of British Nigerian sculptor, Sokari Douglas Camp, who has committed herself to making the world a better and fairer place.

Sokari Douglas Camp, Primavera, 2015. Steel, gold leaf and acrylic paint , 201 x 72 x 162 cm. Photo copyright Jonathan Greet. Courtesy October Gallery London
Sokari Douglas Camp, Primavera, 2015.

In this new exhibition, to be held in October Gallery from April 7th to May 14th, 2016, Douglas Camp shows art encompassing her social and environmental concerns and the strength of African people, especially women, with a touch of humour. She focuses her new sculptures on the reinterpretation of familiar figures from artists who worked in the European classical tradition, such as William Blake and Botticelli.

Sokari Douglas Camp is a sculptor with incredible energy and strength, derived from her Nigerian heritage. She uses steel, gold leaf, copper, copper leaf, and acrylic paint to create large scale sculptures of figures and symbols that focus on social and environmental issues. The work entitled ‘Europe supported by Africa and America’ is the recreation of a drawing by William Blake. It features three female figures touching and supporting each other, dressed in colourful contemporary clothing reminiscent of high fashion in Nigeria, holding a long wreath which morphs into a fuel hose.

Evidence of her commitment towards social issues and the environment include some of her most famous works, such as the ‘Battle Bus: Living Memorial for Ken Saro‐Wiwa’, a full-scale replica of a Nigerian steel bus with the name of the late activist on a white steel banner on one side. It’s loaded with oil barrels bearing the names of the other 8 Ogoni leaders that were also hanged in 1995 by the military government, for campaigning against Shell’s exploitation and destruction of Ogoniland in the Niger Delta. It includes a statement by Saro-Wiwa: “I accuse the oil companies of practising Genocide against the Ogoni”.

Sokari Douglas Camp, Lovers Whispering , 2016. Steel and perspex, 138 x 140 x 71 cm. Photo copyright Jonathan Greet. Courtesy October Gallery London
Sokari Douglas Camp, Lovers Whispering , 2016. 

This Battle Bus has been travelling around the world as part of the Action Saro-Wiwa campaign to force Shell to repair damage caused by oil spills and restore environmental justice for the Ogoni people. “I have a dream that the Niger Delta will be cured even though it is dying of oil pollution” are Sokari’s own words. Last September 2015, on arrival in Nigeria to be used during the 20th anniversary activities to mark the murder of the Ogoni, the Battle Bus was seized by Nigerian Customs on the reported grounds that it had “political value”. Customs officers stated that the “inscription on the memorial bus is a threat to national peace.”

Sokari Douglas Camp has permanent collections at The Smithsonian Museum, Washington, DC; Setagaya Museum, Tokyo; and the British Museum, London. Today she lives and works in a small street in Elephant and Castle, South London, with her husband, Alan Camp (an architect), who designed their house nearly thirty years ago. In 2005 she was honoured as a Commander of the Order of the British Empire in recognition of her services to art and, a year later, Honorary Fellow of the University Of The Arts London.

Sokari Douglas Camp, Prick Gun , 2016. Nickel plaited steel, 133 x 41 x 31 cm. Photo copyright Jonathan Greet Courtesy October Gallery London
Sokari Douglas Camp, Posing with a Gun, 2015.

Sokari Douglas Camp: Primavera
7th April – 14th May 2016
October Gallery
24 Old Gloucester Street
London WC1N 3AL
0207 242 7367
Hours: Tuesday – Saturday, 12.30 – 5.30 pm
Admission: Free
www.octobergallery.co.uk

Credits

  • Photo copyright Jonathan Greet. Courtesy of October Gallery, London.