Nike Art Centers
Contact Us

click any photo
to enlarge

The Woman With the Artistic Brush: A Life History of Yoruba Batik Artist Nike Davies, by Kim Marie Vaz.
Adire: Indigo Textiles amongst the Yoruba
A film by Thorolf Lipp, produced by TMT-Film.
click here for some video clips.
In the Press

In New African Magazine, Julie Kitchener writes:
"Nigerian artist Nike respects Picasso's doctrine that 'it is good for an artist to copy another artist, but not good for an artist to copy themselves'. Despite her distinctively personal style, there is little repetition - even down to color combinations - in her fabulous batik work, and she never reproduces her fashion designs... Nike travels widely in Europe and the USA as well as in Africa: 'Maybe three or four times a year. I love meeting people. When you sit in one place your ideas stay in that place'. There is nothing static or rigid about Nike's work. It is imbued with the dynamism of her imagination and the animation of her conversation. Her designs tell tales, recorded from her unconscious in her dreams which she draws directly onto the cloth, from traditional fables, or from her most recent experiences - 'Jazz, dancers or even the movies in America' have influenced her".

In the catalogue 'Oshogbo Art: Batik of Nike and Work on Paper from Oshogbo', Victoria Scott acknowledges Nike as Nigeria's leading female artist, whose "output is prodigious" and "imagination unfailing". Scott writes that "Nike learned the discipline required for her complex decorative patterning from the traditional adire artists, but she invented new patterns to suit her own needs and the demands of her chosen media".

Network Africa magazine described Nike as "Nigeria's leading batik artist. Her work has been heralded as an example to encourage more women to enter the art field. Nike works in the modern context using traditional techniques and imagery. Her efforts are directed toward preserving the Yoruba culture through contemporary art".

Robert Press in the Christian Science Monitor writes about Nike's Centre: "It is here that Nigerian artist Nike Davies is providing high quality training in the arts - free of charge. She and master teachers at her centre teach sculpture and relief carving, painting, embroidered tapestry, batik, adire (a batik like method using cassava paste instead of wax), appliqué (sewing cloth on cloth), pen and ink on cloth or paper, quilting, drum making and dancing. By her training and her marketing efforts both in Africa and abroad, Nike is helping her students fight some of the major challenges to African art today; a poor economy, which limits what most Africans can afford; and a strong taste for anything Western, including cheap, often second hand clothing and pirated musical-cassette tapes".

In West Africa magazine Dinah Anuli Butler wrote: "The work hasn't always made her (Nike) an adequate living and at times she has worked until two in the morning to finish something in the hope that she would be able to sell it. At other times, having hardly any money, she would fast for three days and pray. Her faith was always rewarded. This has been another quiding principle for her. It is perhaps this faith, that has enabled her to be so free in her art so there are always new ideas, new approaches. It is not a source to be drained. Her starch-resist work was popular but she went onto wax and from there to water colour and then acrylic. She also wants to try collage. Her flow of energy is also extended to teaching. Nike holds workshops in the course of her travels with her work".

Juliet Highet in "African Renaissance: Contemporary Nigerian Art from Oshogbo and Ile-Ife" wrote: "Nike represents the new breed of African woman artist, many of whose realities are now international, though in essence they are perpetuating the living tradition of female artists and 'cloth-queens', controlling heady empires of fabric - wealthy powerful women. Nike's concerns may differ and her range of techniques may have expanded from those of their ancestors, but they are still working with cloth... The passion of her life, she declares, is to help emancipate Nigerian women through art. She had an extremely tough early life, and having broken free of an unhappy first marriage, is determined to inspire other women to expand their horizons. 'The resurgence of interest in local cloth in Nigeria is helping women to become more financially independent' she said. 'If I hadn't done all this work, I would never have got my independence. Most of the women who are not dependent on the whim of their husbands to provide have struggled and worked hard, mostly at weaving, and batik and Adire in the countryside. The women are enjoying it too! Part of my aim in doing Adire is to bring the whole thing back again. People appreciate it now, but before they used to say - 'This is made in Nigeria - we don't want it'."

"Discussing the fact that the patronage of Oshogbo art has by and large shifted from expatriates in Nigeria to the indigens themselves, Nike said: 'formerly Nigerians didn't think much of our work, but nowadays the majority of our output, particularly the expensive pieces, are bought by Nigerians. When they travel abroad and see our work in big offices or posh homes, they will come and look for the artist. Then their houses, they want to decorate with Nigerian art. After the ban on imported goods in the '70s, since then Adire Eleko has become a big seller in Nigeria, which few bought before. People are returning to tradition and enjoying it. They are always looking for our batiks, which in turn encourages the work of our women, because it's mostly women that produce cloth here'."

"To each of the Oshogbo and Ife artists I addressed the same question: 'What does contemporary Nigerian art have to say to the world?' I was particularly interested in how an internationally renowned and well-travelled artist like Nike would respond, and indeed she gave me an answer that betrayed her awareness of the global art market and it's commercial possibilities. 'Most of the people in the West who are interested in African art have been collecting antiquities and I think they should start investigating our modern art. One day this contemporary art will be recognized for its worth and will fetch high prices, like antiques. To uninformed people, our art is new, but it is strong and good and will become old one day'. Indeed early works by Twins Seven Seven change hands nowadays for thousand of dollars."

Here's Nike herself with the final word: "Looking back today, art has been good to me. Though at first there was no money in  it, it was the interest that kept me going. There were times I wouldn't eat for two days simply because I have used the money meant for food to buy dye. Today I am happy that I have made a name throughout the world. Americans think I have 'A wonderful hand' - they call me 'the woman with magic hands'. My dream is to spread African arts throughout the world; and to let the unborn generations know that our culture is very rich".

Nike Centre for Art and Culture © copyright