Ceremonial Headdresses from Nigeria

August 31, 2016

fish headress sketches

My first drawings in the African Galleries of the British Museum were of a collection of Nigerian ceremonial animal masks.  More recently I was attracted to some equally wonderful Nigerian fish masks that are worn on the head like a hat. So I drew; fairly straightforward simple drawings on two pages, wondering how I would use them.  As usual they were left for months when I rediscovered them and decided to make a drawing of the fat terracotta fish on a polyester litho plate, incorporating some of the other ‘fish’ and their markings as a background of jumbled motifs.

2016 fish head dress 1 BM plate resizedi

The Plate

Some of the creatures were halfway between fish and crocodiles and made out of anything and everything from cardboard boxes to shirt buttons, string and feathers. What made them look even more fascinating and mysterious was their presentation.  The cast shadows, especially of the long fish forms, invited a sense of imagined movement.

2016 fish headdress 1 BM print web

Print: Ceremonial Headdress from Nigeria

The plate was printed last Wednesday at High Wycombe on what seemed the hottest day of the year so far!


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