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Àkòbí _ 2022, Body outlines on canvas by Tomilola Olumide.jpg


Body outlines on canvas

Àkòbí, 2022 - Present | Mixed media 

Materials (fabric dye pigment, cotton canvas)

Akọbi began in my Lagos Studio in 2022 as an autobiographical project focusing on the storytelling of the 'firstborn child, family dynamics, navigation and expectations in adulthood.' Here I use my body and life experiences as subjects for activity, a site of performance and a surface for criticism of ‘selfhood and identity’ about the idea of ‘origins' and other themes in my practice.

'Akọbi,' is a Yoruba word which means ‘Firstborn child’, which I am in my family. I’m the ‘First Born and First Daughter’ and that’s come with a lot of responsibility over the years. It’s come with shouldering uncomfortable spaces of other people's existence because of ‘conditioning, mannerisms, properness, culture, what is expected, brave and mature.’ It’s also come with mental fragmentation from being a cushion for others, a secret keeper, a defender, a punching bag for emotional projection and at times not given the space to be, breathe, emote, grieve and speak freely with honest and unbiased listening ears.

AKọBI _ 2022, Untitled setup by Tomilola Olumide (2).jpg

At a time through another family situation ‘drama’ and at another impasse and break in my mental sanity, I began to make this series of work. Slowly from collaged cut-outs of hands-on hydro-printed marbled papers to cut-outs of penises, and now a larger development of my body as drawings juxtaposed on large unstretched canvas sheets.

AKọBI _ 2022, Dye pits _ Wrapped dyed & fabrics by Tomilola Olumide.jpg


Dye pits | Wrapped dyed & fabrics

The body movements drawn on the canvas sheets are indicative of the process of ‘navigating anxiety’ through physical and mental mobility. A manifestation of internal dialogues, mental motions and conditions like thinking, compartmentalising, understanding, grieving, speaking inwards, crying, sleeping and so on. A processing mechanism of postures that represents a psychological reaction on navigating situational hardship.

AKọBI _ 2022, Sun drying canvas and cotton fabric by Tomilola Olumide.jpg


Sun drying canvas and cotton fabric

The project is an ongoing body of work, with pieces physically present between England and Nigeria at the moment of November 2022. However, being in a transitory stage in my practice, I am making an effort to adapt to a more digital projection of my ideas, also due to the space constraints of my current living situation and lack of a studio workspace.

AKọBI _ 2022, Dyed cotton fabric experiments - 1 by Tomilola Olumide.jpg


Dyed cotton fabric experiments - 1

I hope to continue this work across text, digital time-based mediums and manipulations of (sound, video, and image montages) as well as miniature/large-scale physical mixed media pieces can continue the existence of this project, regardless of its original physical scale and material.

AKọBI _ 2022, Dyed cotton fabric experiments - 2 by Tomilola Olumide.jpg


Dyed cotton fabric experiments - 2

I experimented with fabric tie-dye using cotton and canvas fabric material inspired by Àdìrẹ (indigo-dyed cotton cloth from Yoruba land, southwestern Nigeria). I explored folding and wrapping techniques on fabrics with rubber bands for bonding and to create various shapes and patterns without using the batik wax-resist method. Afterwards I dyed balls of fabric in coloured dye pits, and intended to use the dried fabrics as material bodies for self-portraiture of ‘dancing bodies’ incorporating mediums like collage and paint…….Becoming

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