Iyá Àlàro (‘mother of indigo’ / ‘head dyer’)
A research and design project for the Design Museum, completed during a 2020-21 design residency, by designer Abiola Onabule, that explores concepts of care and community inherent in Nigerian textile craft, combining storytelling, conversation and local production. Through the lens of Adire – an ancient decorative indigo-dyeing practice rooted in south-western Nigeria, commonly practised by Yoruba women across generations – this project investigates the creativity, heritage and social importance of this textile. It presents making as a series of ‘caring acts’ that can mediate cultural exchange between a country and its diasporic communities.
The film, directed by Jessica Gianelli, uses cloth as a storytelling device to weave together and explore the rich culture, complex histories and voices that belong to Nigeria and its diaspora. The film, featuring the artists Sola Olulode and Favour Jonathan making in their studios and wearing pieces from a new collection designed by Abiola Onabule, the film highlights the importance of craft and artistry as acts of care, love and holistic support. Imagery painted on the model’s faces references Adire symbols, such as the chameleon, which represents transformation, invincibility and abundance.
Director/editor - Jessica Gianelli
Creative director/production - Abiola Onabule
DOP/colour grading - Raminta Ceponyte
Featuring Sola Olulode & Favour Jonathan
Make-up artist - David Gillers
Make-up artist (Adire symbols) - Yang Yue
Sound design - Llorenç Garcia Bas
Edit consultant - Simon Dawson
Archive footage courtesy of Arcadia Films
Featuring designs by Abiola Onabule