Amarachi Okafor

Amarachi Okafor
Amarachi Okafor, The Shape of Hanging Skin 2009

Amarachi Okafor is interested in the process of transformation and the concept of use, history and memory embedded within a material. Inspired by everyday things which we often overlook like plastic bags, letters or rubbish bags, she carefully selects materials not only for their texture but also for their socio-economic context and connotations of use. Her work engages with diverse issues including human relationships, culture, religion, history, gender and sexuality. Okafor uses sewing to create her artworks not only due to an interest in fashion and referencing women in her local community, but also as a cathartic process of mending broken material.

The Shape of Hanging Skin 2009, a curtain made from the discarded scraps of synthetic leather from the shoe factory, Dale Sko, in Norway, is a work which speaks to both individuals and wider society. The work originates as the curtain on Okafor’s studio door, thus signalling the boundaries of ‘a place where I take refuge. It is my fortress. But it is also my playground, as well as the place where I feel in control’1. Taken out of this context, the curtain becomes symbolic of society’s acceptance of systemic corruption – constantly pushed against, always accepting. It is these parallel and competing meanings that confront us as we take our place amongst the people who brush past this ever-yielding fake leather. Yet in January 2012, the Occupy Nigeria protests over petrol prices reminds us that a population will not necessarily always yield.

1 Amarachi Okafor in an email to Natasha Howes 17 November 2011.



Born in 1977 in Nigeria. Lives and works in Nigeria.

Trained in Nigeria where she obtained a BA in Painting and an MFA in Sculpture from the University of Nigeria in 2002 and 2007 respectively. She is currently studying an MA in Curating at the University College Falmouth, Cornwall, UK.

Recent solo shows include Africa West, Oriel Mostyn Gallery, Llandudno, UK, 2008. Group shows include Shared Perspectives, Cameroon, 2010; the 1st International Festival of Contemporary Art, Algiers, 2009; ARESUVA, 2008, Abuja, Nigeria, 2008 and Art 4, Channel Four Television Headquarters, London, UK, 2008.

She worked as a curatorial assistant at the National Gallery of Art, Abuja, Nigeria in 2009 and curated an artist intervention project in the Bahamas in 2010, I am Bahamian, I eat Conch Salad funded by the Commonwealth Foundation.

Work in the show
Amarachi Okafor
The Shape of Hanging Skin 2009
Synthetic leather off-cuts
263cm x 97cm
Image courtesy of the artist


Martin Barlow, curator of the exhibition Moving Into Space at the National Football Museum talks about the exhibition.

Barthélémy Toguo, Lucy Azubuike and Nnenna Okore, three of the exhibited artists, talk about their work and their interest in using materials which reflect the lifestyle and experience of the people of West Africa.

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Street life, dazzling dress, social commentary and a riot of sensuous colour interweave in a rich assembly of West African art, writes Charles Gore in the Times Higher Education

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