Tonkunbo Pores

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During my residency at Villa Strauli, I visited factories in Lustenau, Austria and St.Gallen, Switzerland where African laces (embroidered textiles) are produced for the Nigerian market. Engaging the collections of these factories was the point of departure for my work.

My first visit was to HOH Hoferhecht Stickereien Lustenau, where Claudio La Cioppa, the General Manager, pleasantly took me round the factory and introduced me to the different departments and their processes.

While there I was curious to know how designs are generated and what influenced their choices of themes. I was told that the Nigerian textile merchants and the company’s design team develop the designs, collectively. More interesting, the Nigerians don’t buy designs with African patterns and icons. Hence deigns are inspired by themes and icons of global recognition.

In fact, I was hinted that the manufacturers had once tried to create African patterns on a set of lace, but the products never sold.

Thanks to Claudio who donated a box of textiles from their factories for my work.

At this point, I got involved with transforming the textile pieces and introducing “African icons”  inspired by traditional Nigerian textiles and ancient sign writing known as ‘nsibidi’, combined with Swiss magazine designs and content. This mix becomes part of the textile to contextualise the content of this textile pieces.

In the absence of other materials, I had access to old newspapers which I collected from the garbage point, this news papers I re-purposed to create ‘paper lace’ which was made into an ‘Agbada’. This was a tedious repetitive and performative process of cutting, painting, folding and weaving newspapers which was finally laid into a piece of  garment.

I also  had a sound installation piece,  This work was done with second hand clothes donated to me based on my asking people to donate their used clothes for my project, This second hand clothing and some laces donated by HOH factory constituted this installation titled ‘Oja’. This installation had an accompanying sound that I collected from the Second hand clothes market in Lagos.