Adire, African indigenous textile
Your culture is your immune system- Marimba Ani
Adire is a Yoruba (Yoruba is a tribe in Nigeria) word which translates as tie and dye textile, the textile is popular in the Yoruba culture, variations of dyeing techniques are applied when creating Adire, such as “Adire Eleko” (hand-painting designs onto cloth with a cassava starch paste prior to dyeing), along with a style more suited to rapid mass production (using metal stencils cut from the sheets of tin that lined tea chests, using sewn raffia and/or tied sections, or folding the cloths repeatedly before tying or stitching them in place).
I was introduced to Adire at Eton primary school, Lagos Nigeria, at the age of five; it was part of the school’s curriculum to study indigenous art and craft. I was fascinated by the beautiful patterns and colors; moreover I was astonished by the history, culture and heritage of the Yoruba people attached to Adire textile.
Regrettably in our modern, the concept of Adire textile seems to be forgotten art. Fortunately for us and our lovely readers, Afrokanist magazine came across the beautiful God sent Allyson Davies, commonly known by her native Yorùbá name ‘Aina’ (meaning, a girl born with the umbilical cord around her neck), we couldn’t let her go, without an interview.
Aina is a textile artist and art consultant for the Nike Art Centre; the largest gallery in West Africa (as featured on CNN). Born in Osun state, Nigeria, to a Welsh father and Yoruba mother, Aina has always been intrigued by the fusion of different cultures.
During her three years of managing the Nike Art Centre, Aina organised team building and creative art workshops for MNCs such as Shell, Chevron, General Electric, Schlumberger and the likes. The aim was to promote Nigerian arts and introduce new expatriate employees to Nigerian culture through dance, textile, drumming, crafts, painting, bead making and clay work. After few years of working with the gallery, she quickly realised that there was a need for producers and sellers to document the much sought after information on art and textiles. As African Art was on the rise, there was increasing interest and attention to what makes the African Art so unique.
This was the driving force behind her recent publication ‘Storytelling Through Adire,’ a book on the meanings of indigenous textiles of Nigeria, now commonly found within artworks and modern fashion. Presently, Aina is studying for her Masters in International Marketing Management at the University of Surrey, and is eager and passionate about developing new expressions that reflect the current generation. She is currently working on a project, which aims to engage Nigerian youth in indigenous textiles by developing symbols that reflect the unique values, meanings and affairs of Nigeria’s Gen Y segment.
Afrokanist magazine celebrates you, Aina for your remarkable and exceptional creative initiative.