Gele ati Aso-Oke: Yoruba Photography by Olu Alabi
Help protect, promote and celebrate the Yoruba photography heritage in the UK Black History Month.
Gele ati Asọ́-Oke (Headties & Luxurious fabrics) is the first ever exhibition, in the world, of photos by Nigerian photographer Olu Alabi, showing just one of many celebratory traditions of the Yoruba, one of Africa’s global cultures. Planned for 24/10/16-4/11/16 in order to join in October’s UK Black History Month celebrations, it aims to challenge the idea of a homogenous Africa or Black UK and address Yoruba photography not being widely known about in the mainstream but lauded in academia.
This exhibition will be a display of striking photographic portraits from the 1970s by Baba Alabi of Ibadan, western Nigeria. Its inspiration is the elaborate head-gear (gele) worn by Yoruba women and the expensive hand-woven fabric (aso-oke), indigenous to the Yoruba people and worn by them mainly on special family occasions. This theme, marrying culture with fashion, which Baba Alabi has captured in his photography over the decades, is just one of the many themes that celebrate and distinguish the Yoruba people. Planned for the UK’s 2016 Black History Month of October, the exhibition, aims to present the joys of diversity and to promote the appreciation of distinct cultures. It will open with a private view and drinks reception for its funders. The photographs in the exhibition will be individually hand-printed, by one of London’s few remaining traditional photo labs, to a high quality using the pre-digital darkroom process.
In addition to having the satisfaction of making this exhibition possible, our backers would get to own a piece of Yoruba photography history and culture. Pick one of out top two perks and you will either bag a numbered limited edition print of Olu Alabi’s images or one of the actual photographs in the exhibition.
Baba Alabi, is a veteran photographer who lives and plied his trade in Ibadan. Baba Alabi’s was one of the main commercial studios, during the 1970s to 1990s, photographing Ibadan folk at their weddings, christenings, graduations, funerals and other family celebrations. He is now one of the few Nigerian photographers who have managed to preserve part of his collection of commercial work from his active years in the 1970s. It is thanks to his foresight that we have this opportunity to get a glimpse of a golden period of Yoruba photography, before the arrival of digital photos.
Why have this exhibition?
As the curator I, Depo Olukotun, was inspired by the idea of using photographs of the Yoruba people, whose presence is just as strong in the UK as it is in Nigeria or Northern Brazil, as an example of the fact that Black Britain is made up of a range of interesting cultures. My objective is to educate people about themselves and individual groups about each other. The Gele ati Asọ́-Oke exhibition also aims to highlight the fact that there are many different photographic heritages, out there in the world, which need to be preserved for their value as information about unique histories and cultures.
St Mary-at-Hill: Come and celebrate with us in this historic venue
The Gele ati Asọ́-Oke exhibition will be held in the accessible and salubrious setting of the Church of St Mary-at-Hill. Right at the centre of the City of London by the Monument, Sir John Betjeman described it as “the least spoilt and the most gorgeous interior” in the City. This venue is also historic, having been rebuilt to a design by the renowned Sir Christopher Wren after the 1666 Great Fire of London. It has been at the heart of 2016’s 350th anniversary commemorations of the Fire.
Choose one of the three top perks offered in this Indiegogo campaign and join us at the drinks reception to celebrate the opening of the Gele ati Asọ́-Oke exhibition at this historic venue.
What will your contributions be supporting?
Your contributions will:
- Help fund the cost of the exhibition, including the hand-printed photographs that will be exhibited.
- Fund a donation to the educational charity of St Peter’s Aremo Church Ibadan, where Baba Alabi was one of the resident photographers
- Support future educational and cultural events
- Fund further photographic heritage research and preservation projects and in effect support the foresight and efforts of photographers like Baba Alabi.
- Help pay Baba Alabi’s copyright fees.
The Curator and Organiser
Depo Olukotun is a researcher whose area of interest is West African photographic history, specifically Yoruba photographic history and traditions. He has a Masters degree in the History of Art and Photography from Birkbeck College, University of London. As a curator, he runs GalleriaClic, an online art gallery with years of experience of running pop-up galleries and organising exhibitions.
Risks and Challenges
This is an all-or-nothing fundraising campaign. If we do not raise the whole £4500, the exhibition cannot be mounted. If we do not reach our target each backer will be given a full refund of the pledges.
Please visit and keep an eye on www.galleriaclic.co.uk/gele for updates on the exhibition and information on Yoruba Photography