Tiffany-Annabelle Davies is a British-Nigerian artist based in Lagos. She holds a degree in law from the University of Surrey in the UK and has been nurturing her artistic passion since the age of six. Her artistic journey took flight during the challenging times of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. Since then, her career has been on a remarkable trajectory, marked by successful exhibitions, including an installation titled ‘Good, Bad, Crazy,’ which she describes as a “profound exploration of Nigeria’s intricate emotions and rich diversity”. In this interview with TheCable Lifestyle’s VICTORY ORIMEMI, Tiffany-Annabelle delves into a deep connection with Nigeria, how her law background influences her art, and the importance of staying true to one’s vision.
TheCable Lifestyle: Your discussions frequently touch on creating art for Nigerians. Why does this hold such importance for you?
Tiffany-Annabelle: First of all, I feel a deep connection to Nigeria as a British-Nigerian artist. Even though I was born in London, growing up in Lagos is a big part of what makes me who I am. My art is heavily inspired by my environment and I love the energy of the Nigerian spirit, so it affects my work heavily.
TheCable Lifestyle: What would you say sets you apart from other artists?
Tiffany-Annabelle: I do not like to think of what sets me apart but rather I focus on being true to myself. True to my vision and true to my goals. I think if every artist did this we would all end up standing out in our own various ways.
TheCable Lifestyle: Aside from being an artist, you are a lawyer. How does your law background help you deal with legal aspects within your artistic endeavours, such as contracts, negotiations, or intellectual property concerns?
Tiffany-Annabelle: I have a law degree and I love that it’s my foundation even though at the time the love was not so strong, to be honest. It is a degree that trains you to sharpen the mind and I apply what I have learned in some capacity to all areas of my life. Everyone should be afraid of a person who can study law.
TheCable Lifestyle: What challenges have you faced as a woman in the creative industry?
Tiffany-Annabelle: My focus is never on challenges. Even though there are gender-based issues I have dealt with, they have been issues I have been able to overcome. I encourage up-and-coming female artists to look at solutions and create opportunities for themselves because this is how I live my life.
TheCable Lifestyle: Your artworks are unique. I would like to know, what inspires your creation?
Tiffany-Annabelle: Thank you, I will definitely credit my inspiration to the experience of living in Lagos. The people I meet and what I hope for in the world. A mix of inspiration and aspiration.
TheCable Lifestyle: Are there individuals you consider role models, and how have they shaped both your artistic expression and your life?
Tiffany-Annabelle: For sure. I have not been able to embark on this artistic journey alone. My mentor is Victor Ehikhamenor. He has been instrumental in encouraging my talent as well as inspiring me by the way he works and by his artistic genius.
TheCable Lifestyle: If you could pursue a different path aside from being an artist, what alternative profession would you choose?
Tiffany-Annabelle: I would own an ice cream parlour and probably spend all day exploring the different flavours instead of serving customers.
TheCable Lifestyle: That is so hilarious! On a more serious note, do you believe people in Nigeria truly appreciate art?
Tiffany-Annabelle: Yes, we are a nation that has art in our bones. The reactions to my art have been so overwhelming from CEOs of top companies to the gateman in my compound. Irrespective of age or background we appreciate art and the country is filled with talent.
TheCable Lifestyle: Are you working to increase the value of art at the grassroots level, particularly when compared to the broader international appreciation?
Tiffany-Annabelle: I am but I know I am not alone. The art industry is on a journey and we see improvements year after year. Looking at other industries, for example, the music industry, we can see that great things are possible
TheCable Lifestyle: Why did you choose the title ‘Good, Bad, and Crazy’ for your just concluded exhibition? Is there a story behind it?
Tiffany-Annabelle: Addie Mak, the curator, and co-owner of the space ’30s,’ came up with the name. Once he mentioned it, it stuck. He is someone who is such a creative force just in the way he lives his life. I have learned a lot from him and look forward to what he is up to after this.
Earlier this year, I had an exhibition in Ghana, that was my first out of the country. I ended up selling a painting to the First Lady of Ghana, which was really exciting for me. I did not know anyone in Ghana, but the people there were truly lovely and receptive. For this installation, I wanted to do something different.
TheCable Lifestyle: How did this exhibition — being your fourth one — make you feel?
Tiffany-Annabelle: Technically it was not an exhibition but an installation and launch of Tiffany-Annabelle merchandise. It was fun to take time out to meet people who love my work and have them interact with the installation.
For the merchandise, I created a unique collection, especially for those who adore my art but might not be able to afford a piece right now. The collection features T-shirts with playful, relatable notes that I am sure art enthusiasts will appreciate. There are five T-shirts, each an extension of the installation, available for purchase until Thursday, November 9th and the link to shop is www.tiffany-annabelle.com/#Shop.
TheCable Lifestyle: There is a quote that says, “an artist is not paid for his labour but for his vision”. How does this resonate with your perspective on the value placed on your artistic work and the compensation you receive?
Tiffany-Annabelle: I think compensation is very important for artists. Regardless of the type of artist you see yourself as it is very important that the value of your work is appreciated. I am certainly not a starving artist, and I do not encourage any artist to struggle unnecessarily by neglecting their basic needs. As an artist, it is important to understand what brings you happiness and fulfillment outside of your artistic endeavors because there should be harmony between your work life and your personal life. Your artistic and real-life aspects must align to create a balanced and unified existence.
TheCable Lifestyle: Do you have a favourite medium to work with, and what draws you to it?
Tiffany-Annabelle: I love using charcoal because it is messy, and I love making a mess and being free. But then again, I learned how to screen print last year with Professor Bruce Onobrakpeya. I went to his studio in Mushin and learned from the master himself on screen printing because he is a master printer and a national treasure in Nigeria and in the art industry. Apart from that, I love Andy Warhol; he is one of my favorite artists. That is why I gravitated toward screen printing; I wanted to learn. So, I would say charcoal, screen printing. Obviously, screen printing takes a long time, but I love playing around with all the colours. I also like acrylic paints because they dry quickly. I do want to get into oil paint; I would love to learn how to use oil paints properly, but they take ages to dry. So, I am going to get into that next year and dabble in sculpture. Those are the two mediums I look forward to exploring in the near future.
TheCable Lifestyle: How do you spend your time when you are not absorbed in your art?
Tiffany-Annabelle: I love reading; I am a big reader. I read books, I read fashion magazines, and I listen to music. I like to unwind with a good show. So, if I’m not in my world of arts, I find that I am getting inspiration from other arts. I am getting inspiration from fashion, and I am getting inspiration from movies.
TheCable Lifestyle: What is your favorite show at the moment?
Tiffany-Annabelle: Oh, that is a really good one. At the moment, I really love the Beckham documentary.
TheCable Lifestyle: Wow, everyone is talking about it.
Tiffany-Annabelle: Yeah, you have to watch it. I love the story and the relationship between him and Victoria Beckham because I am also a huge Spice Girls fan. That is my favorite thing I am watching at the moment.
TheCable Lifestyle: Oh great! Do you have any upcoming projects or ideas you are excited about exploring in the future?
Tiffany-Annabelle: The installation is not a one-off event. It will run throughout the week, and I am very excited about it. I also look forward to what next year brings. I intend to do something interesting.
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