In celebration of the #InternationalWomensDay2020, the British Deputy High Commissioner, Ms. Harriet Thompson hosted at her residence last Friday, a reception and exhibition featuring works by women in the art space. We took time out to speak to some of these amazons about their work and the celebrations:
Oluchi C. Zom
Tell us a bit about your self as an artist:
I am a multimedia artist who uses different media to convey my ideas. I create my paintings using acrylics, oils and mixed media. My works have featured in several exhibitions and exist in private collections around the world.
What is the concept behind your work:
My piece has different facets to it. Firstly, it depicts a woman confident in herself, her uniqueness, and her capabilities as a human being; strength, confidence in femininity, and certainty that encourages a strong sense of self-worth. I find that these are traits which are common in successful women, and acquiring them would be quite pivotal in young girls and women if they are to be empowered.
Secondly, the leaves represent a link to prehistoric humans, who according to recent scientific research practiced sexual equality in their societies. As much as I am in no way proposing a trip back to prehistoric times, it is an opportunity to forward that conversation and plant the idea that gender equality isn’t so far-fetched.
Finally, I use the depiction of three leaves in relation to natural sameness. At the basic level of all humans are cells that make tissues that make organs. This points to the fact that all human beings were created the same and therefore equal.
What does being a woman mean to you:
It means before anything else, that I am human, and deserve to be treated as such. It means oftentimes, that I am under pressure to prove myself and my worth; to fight for my space at the table; to fight for respect. We still live in a society where women are abused and made vulnerable and it remains acceptable to some, and sometimes backed by law.
It means being a warrior for change in the smallest ways possible, speaking out against acts of inequality against women and encouraging other women at every opportunity to understand their value and worth. I look forward to a time when gender really doesn’t preempt acceptance, respect, value, or furtherance of opportunity.
What does it feel like being a woman in the art space:
The art space is quite male-dominated and oriented for the most part. Even though there are more and more women artists coming up everyday, there is still a huge gap, there aren’t enough female voices. As a female in this field, there is an ever-present need to work twice as hard in order to be taken seriously, to get recognised, get gallery representation and to get into exhibitions and other activities.
What is your message to women on this celebration of international women’s day:
I encourage women to be strong, to stay strong; to keep striving for more and to seek out avenues to confidently take their place in the world. We have yet a long road ahead of us especially in countries like Nigeria, however, slowly but surely progress is being made.
I urge women who have managed to overcome and situate themselves in positions of influence and authority to create and offer opportunities to other women and young girls who have not had, not been given, or have had the opportunity forcefully taken away from them. Women should also find ways to pay it back, reach out to those who need support, support one another, and speak about the areas of inequality that still exist in our various communities and societies.
My message is however not for women alone, since the world consists of both women and men. Individually we are responsible for our own thoughts and actions everyday and everyone has a role to play in securing that balance in the world. Collectively, each one of us can help make a gender-equal world.
Temidayo Taiwo-Sidiq is a Political Journalist, Analyst and Social Change Advocate with major interest in Nigerian Politics, Governance and Sports.