Have you heard of Uli-Museum? If you’re even the slightest bit interested in Nigerian art, it is time you did. Uli-Museum is an online gallery focused on showcasing the talents of contemporary Nigerian artists, it displays work across a range of styles and disciplines and features in-depth profiles on emerging artists (see: this excellent interview with Karo Akpokiere).
Uli-Museum is interested in art for all, its manifesto champions enthusiasm over connoisseurship: ‘We want to make this whole art thing accessible, no ‘arty farty’ talk if we can help it…’ Going forward African Art in London will do its best to let you know every time Uli-Museum is shining its spotlight on a new artist but if you really want to be sure to stay in the loop follow the museum’s presence on Facebook.
African Art in London recently sat down with Uli-Museum’s lovely founder Winnie Awa and fired a few questions at her concerning the how’s and why’s and ultimate goals of the digital art space she has built.
What made you decide to build an online museum?
About a year ago, I started discovering some really interesting artists from Nigeria and across Africa, who in my view were truly challenging the status quo and pushing the boundaries in terms of style and medium, beyond the archetypal view of art from Africa – Njideka Akunyili, Ruby Amanze, Karo Akpokiere and Modé to name a few. My appetite was growing and I would stumble across one or two more artists but I wanted to know more but there wasn’t one place I could go to learn, discover and share my emerging interest. Marrying the two, technology and art to achieve this aim seemed like a no brainer to me.
Why an online museum showcasing Nigerian art?
Accessibility was key, both for the artists being featured and the users consuming the artworks online. Last year, I attended a talk about Contemporary Nigerian Art at SOAS University and was surprised at the number of artists who stop working as a direct result of the lack of patronage. I think patronage goes hand in hand with exposure and an online platform bridges geographical gaps.
What are the aims of Uli-Museum?
The aim of Uli-Museum is to document the brilliant body of contemporary art and artists work in and around Nigeria, providing comprehensive online content for art lovers and budding collectors, as well as global exposure to talented artists. It is really about discovering, engaging and sharing art. Our manifesto summarises the Uli-Museum DNA pretty well.
How do you select artists?
We focus on emerging and established artists from Nigeria or diaspora, from painting to sculpture to installations to video art. It usually starts with first contact with the artist, either via email or a conversation, from which point it is mutually agreed as to the best method to use for profiling the artist.
What’s the best way for people interested in Nigerian art to get involved with Uli-Museum?
Collaboration is at the heart of what Uli-Museum does. If anyone’s interested in being a guest curator, or writing, or filming, please do get in touch with us. As a regular art lover who just wants to enjoy and engage with the artworks on display, you can get stuck right in. We recently teamed up with Wana Udobang of Guerillabasement.com to release an exclusive feature with award winning Nigerian artist, Nnenna Okore. To get involved and engaged further, please LIKE the Uli-Museum Facebook page to share your views on Nnenna Okore’s work, become part of the debate and keep abreast of upcoming and exciting new features.
What’s the ultimate goal of Uli-Museum?
Ultimately, it is about contributing to the Nigerian art market. Whilst this is an exciting time for Nigerian art at the moment, there is still little documentation on the ground. In covering art from a wholly accessible way, we hope to revolutionise the way people consume and engage with art.