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Nigeria: Expressing culture through wood carving

Chairs and table produced by Nigeria's Emmanuel Nnakwelugo   -  
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Emmanuel Nnakwelugo is a sculptor and carver whose amazing art works have dazzled many.

A native of Anambra State, South East Nigeria, Emmanuel’s interest for arts started at a very young age when he usually accommpanied his friends to the house of a popular carver in his village. He would some day become the popular wood carver but with a stronger resolve in expressing and preserving his culture.

“That is the main thing. How can I use ordinary things to get something beautiful that can be used to promote the Igbo culture? That is the main reason. So anything about the Igbo or Africa culture, I don't joke with it,” he added.

Emmanuel started the work because he wanted to promote the Igbo traditional culture. His challenge today is the ability to produce what people need and to turn many more household equipment into art works.

“I like doctors, lawyers, Engineers but this is not my call. Art is my call, being an artist is my joy, I want it and love it and I am very okay with it,” he said.

Ekene and Emeka, are sculptors who work with Emmanuel. They say they have been working with Emmanuel for more than 6 years adding that the number of days to deliver a job depends on the nature of creativity the work demands.

“It takes us two days or one month to finish a work depending on the creativity put in the job and what I mean by the creativity is the art work or the engraving, and what we design in the work that is what takes time” said Ekene Ejiofor, Foreman.

“It depends on the kind of chairs and tables and the kind of art work the person wants because different work needs different kinds of creativity” said Emeka Maduka, Production Manager.

Wood carving is an integral form of expressing culture and traditions in Nigeria and dates back to the 12th century. However one of the major challenges artists go through is that of sourcing for art materials.

The high cost of art materials had in the past robbed some artists of their dreams.

The wood carver says in 10 years time, he plans to have showrooms in major Nigerian cities that include Abuja, and Port Harcourt. It is Emmanuel's dream to also employ many artists.

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