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Tapping Into The Known

The life and work of Christopher Okigbo & Obi Okigbo

12 April - 23 June 2007

Tapping into the Known - Is an exhibition of Poetry, Paintings and Installations by the late Poet Christopher Okigbo and his artist daughter, Obi Okigbo that emerged as a result of 'conversations' between Obi and her father. Okigbo, considered to be one of Africa's pre-eminent and enigmatic poets, died in the battlefields of the Nigerian civil war, in September 1967, leaving his wife and two year-old daughter, Obiageli.

STOP PRESS: Obi Okigbo will be giving free gallery talks at 1pm on Thursday 21st and Friday 22nd June

Her 'conversations' with her father have manifested into an exuberance of colour, form and poetic content, not only as a result of finding her fathers poetry but from her own aesthetic and personal experiences. The link between Ibo mythology and belief systems, symbols and themes are common to both her father's poetry and her art. However, she inhabits his words and themes in a distinct and inspiring way resulting in her own breath-taking interpretations of those common themes. The twist in the tail is that through this exploration she has redefined her identity, finally finding her father and therefore herself. One would even venture to say that her father has found her - reunited with his daughter in the spiritual as well as the artistic realm - intimating an extremely celestial connection.

The rationale behind the exhibition is to bring to the fore the sheer brilliance and sensibilities of Christopher Okigbo's poetry which continues to attract scholars all over the world yet these works, considered seminal in the development of modern African poetry and literature are today out of print. By juxtaposing his poems with the mesmerising and at times haunting paintings of his daughter, it is our aim to exhibit two invigorating and thought provoking artists working in different artistic mediums, and the spiritual link that encapsulates their independent visions.

This exhibition is an intrinsic part of the celebrations planned by the Christopher Okigbo Foundation to mark and honour his legacy in 2007 and we are honoured to be part of the year long celebrations which will include The Ojoto Memorial Service in August 2007, Harvard Symposium in September 2007 and re-publication of the Labyrinths with Chinua Achebe and several other publications by scholars in this field.

...We have a responsibility to the African peoples on the continent and Diaspora, to hold up beacons of light, in this period of darkness... When civilizations are long gone, only the Arts remain as testimony of our evolution... Christopher Okigbo Foundation...

Supported by  The Arts Council of England FBN Bank, Nigeria The Nigeria High Commission, London Union Bank UK plc

and SOAS with special thanks to The Christopher Okigbo Foundation, Brussels.