Olukorede Ojelade is a young designer based in Lagos, Nigeria.
She employs individual silk threads in the crafting of abstract designs. Various techniques used in crafting the glowing silk threads create depth, geometric patterns, fluidity as dictated by each work. Her experience building models in Architecture School aids her exploration of texture, color, lighting, and materials.
Influences include Lagos, a major gateway and cosmopolitan city, a melting pot of cultures boasting a frenetic urban tempo. The vibrant rich hues of the surrounding ocean, the fluid lines of nature, and the sharp jagged edges of the urbanscape can all be observed in her work.
The abstract pieces lend themselves to multiple interpretations. They play on the mind and emotions. As an artist, she hopes to provide a pleasing aesthetic experience while simultaneously challenging the observer’s traditional visualization process.
Hello Korede! Please tell us a little about yourself and your art.
Korede: I am a young woman in my late thirties passionate about creativity and innovation. I have a professional background in Design. I create unique paintings, products, and accessories using individual silk threads on a variety of surfaces. Some of my art has been sold in galleries, to private concerns and businesses. I’ve participated in sponsored Art Fairs and Exhibitions.
I’m a great lover of Lifestyle – good books, interiors, music, food, and products that are aesthetically pleasing yet providing practical solutions. Going to the mall is one of my favorite pastimes.
I reside in Lagos, a major West – African city and international gateway.
Can you describe a time when you first realized that creating was something you absolutely had to do?
Korede: I look back to a time several years ago while working on an abstract piece called ‘Vivid Island ‘. I’d been off to a good start initially when I encountered a massive block. I was deeply frustrated by my inability to realize what I had conceptualized. The project stalled quite a bit. Suddenly I broke through creatively and completed the artwork. The immense satisfaction I felt afterward is something that has spurred me on to keep on creating. Till date, I rate it among my better works. In fact, I’ve found that the more creative resistance there is, the greater the chances of an exceptional piece waiting to emerge.
Tell us about your day in the studio! What does it look like (and feel like)? What can you share about your process or routines?
Korede: I work in quiet spaces, sometimes at home and occasionally shared workspaces with other entrepreneurs.
A typical day entails getting the materials ready, choosing the bundles of silk thread I’m working with that day, improvising when a particular color stock is running low, and tackling a segment of the artwork I have clarity on.
My best hours are usually in the morning before noon. When charged and at my peak, I’m at my craft perhaps for 4 hours at a stretch. Then I hit a place where productivity declines. Usually, this is characterized by ambivalence and listlessness. Then I take a break, review the work, roughly sketch in designs on uncompleted portions. When I’m not actually working with the thread I’m still turning over the piece mentally, mulling over how I can create something more engaging and enigmatic for the viewer.
Sometimes while working, an inspiration for a new piece hits. Quickly, I sketch or write down the conceptual idea on whatever scrap of paper I can find. I’ve found the initial germ of an idea to be essential to the creative process. Later I can ruminate and plumb its depths.
How did you develop your style?
Korede: This developed gradually and over time. I was introduced to the silk thread medium in an art elective course while at Architecture School. I remember we were supposed to create something on board using thread and glue. My colleagues and roommates at the time raved over my finished piece. I didn’t dwell too much on it then since creating building models was part of the training. Several years later as an intern fresh out of university I became interested in Lifestyle so I made a piece to adorn my flat. Fast-forward to 2013, I mustered the confidence to craft pieces for sale in galleries. I recorded an initial modest sale a few months later at a temporary exhibit. This spurred me on to engage the medium in earnest, exploring cutting techniques, thread size, stretching to give various effects, all on thick board. I researched artists working with thread online, refining my style along the way.
What are you working on at the moment?
Korede: Currently, I’m working on a painting titled ‘What is Broken’. The piece is in response to an artist’s prompt about believing individuals who disclose painful experiences. The setting is evocative of trampled flowers in a field, dies used for molding, and feminine forms. The color palette is vibrant. There are deep fuchsias, reds, yellows, turquoises- brilliant colors that go on forever juxtaposed against voids and dark lines that depict an emptiness or nothingness.
The abstract speaks to pain that is hidden and not readily apparent, camouflaged by a surface gaiety all too common in life.
Is there a specific theme or concept you keep in all of your work or does it change with each series?
Korede: There are a variety of themes that inspire my projects. They include nature, urban life, feminine forms, relief forms, water bodies, human experience, etc.
One of your main influences is the city of Lagos. What is so magical about it that inspires a lot of your work?
Korede: There’s a lot to say about Lagos. It’s a cosmopolitan city located in South-West Nigeria, a melting pot of cultures. It is fortuitously situated with an international airport, the Atlantic Ocean, and a major seaport. There are a host of beaches dotting the Megalopolis. Lagos is a land of opportunity yet a city of contrasts. A loose translation of a local saying states that Lagos doesn’t suffer fools. There is both great wealth and poverty. There are the crazy traffic scenes, the yellow and black danfo buses, the bustling marketplaces complete with the multicolored umbrellas covering the stalls. There’s a juxtaposition of contemporary chic alongside the traditional. There’s great drive or ‘hustle’. Always, there’s the sense that the unexpected can happen.
Where is the number one place you dream of displaying your art?
Korede: I think the MoMA in New York City would be an interesting place. I’ve always loved to read and as a pre-teen, ‘The Babysitters’ Club‘ books were a favorite. One of the characters thought the MoMA to be a really cool place. Much later, as an undergraduate studying about building types, I would yet encounter this edifice housing magnificent artworks. Now having transitioned to creating as an artist, I think it would be a quirky twist of fate to have my work displayed there.
Do you have a real-life situation that inspired your artwork? If yes, what was it?
Korede: I have a painting titled “Crossings”, inspired by daily occurrences taking place at a real place, the Lekki Toll Plaza in Lagos. I have commuted along this route and sat in public transportation as we wound our way through the occasional congestion. I thought to capture the frenetic pace from an aerial perspective using the silk thread medium. The painting was completed in early February 2020, just before the effects of the Covid19 Pandemic would start to bite. Executed in abstract style with cheerful bright colors, it captures the continuous meld and flow of traffic in urban Lagos.
Currently, as 2020 draws to a close, this piece holds a certain poignancy as the site of the EndSARS protests in Lagos. It is a place where Nigerian youths of diverse ethnicities, backgrounds, and status united to raise their voice against police brutality, societal evils. It is a place where some have made the transition from this world to the next.
How has your art evolved over the years?
Korede: Initially, all my pieces were created on thick strawboard. However, now I’m also exploring other suitable surfaces. Giving that the medium is a soft natural fiber I’ve made a few forays on fabric. This has included collaborations with international fashion houses (Ade Bakare Couture and Orange Culture). The work process is slightly modified. I create stencils or stiff backing cut-outs before fixing onto the garment or fabric. The end result is the art that you can actually wear as opposed to stationary pieces adorning interior spaces.
In the near future, I’m considering other novel applications of this medium. You can find everyday applications of my artwork on the shopVIDA platform. (https://shopvida.com/collections/beaversedge)
What is the best way to reach people that are interested in your art?
Korede: I have an online presence on Digital and Social Media platforms.
On my Instagram handle @beaversedge, interested followers are kept abreast of my art through posts of my work- completed paintings, work in progress, creative inspiration, etc. There’s also a link to my online Flutterwave store on this page (www.flutterwave.com/store/BeaversedgeDesigns)
Via Social Media, I keep people updated on any fairs or exhibitions I might be participating in. Pre – Covid19, fairs were a great means of exposure and provided leads for future opportunities. Occasionally I run digital ads to enhance awareness and submit images of my works to online art sites
Those interested in having custom work done can also reach me via DM @beaversedge or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.