Clara Aden – Lagos, Nigeria

Food for thoughts oil on canvas 38" by 24" 2012

Food for thoughts oil on canvas 38″ by 24″ 2012

Briefly describe the work you do.

My passion for drawing grew out of insatiable thirst to document, to analyze, to recreate to comment on the world l live in, using figures to convey different messages. My drawings are unique, able to communicate and evolve strong emotions. I work in acrylic, oil and pastel but my principal medium of work is pencil and charcoal.

D.H. Lawrence says “the business of art is to revealed the relation between man and his environment”. I believe that the skills and techniques in the world are of little use unless you have something interesting to say about the world around you. I look for gestures images or thoughts that move or evolve my sense of observation. I see it with my artistic mind, and start to lay it out.

Tell us about your background and how that has had an influence on your work and on you as an artist.

I grew up in the waterside area of Agboyi land in Alapere, where l had her primary and secondary school education. With inborn artistic talent, encouraged by her mother a fashionista, l worked with Soul publication limited as Assistant production Manager and Art illustrator. I started creating art in my kindergarten. I grew up in a country where female child exploring the world of art is regarded as peculiar or unusual. I started drawing by tracing from cartoon characters, draw and colouring books, just like today’s artists redrawing the work of masters.

Fulani maiden charcoal on paper 38" by 20" 2014

Fulani maiden charcoal on paper 38″ by 20″ 2014

The concept of the artist studio has a broad range of meanings in contemporary practice. Artists may spend much of their time in the actual studio, or they may spend very little time in it. Tell us about your individual studio practice and how it differs from or is the same as traditional notions of “being in the studio.”

Two years ago, l had a studio, situated in Lagos. When the building was sold, l had to create a moderate space in one of the flats. “Being in the studio” is a time of reflection, research, production and exploration of images, ideas, thoughts that inspired me. From inspiration to my sketchbook, to finished drawing all within my studio but at times l find inspiration outside my studio spaces.

What roles do you find yourself playing that you may not have envisioned yourself in when you first started making art?

Over the years l thought wearing apron or overall is for bakers and technicians. I put on my apron while working in my studio, though l haven’t been forced to wear it. I find myself acquiring skills and knowledge in acting, runway modeling, writing historical stories, social activist.

When do you find is the best time to make art? Do you set aside a specific time everyday or do you have to work whenever time allows?

I have no specific time when l want to create my art. Drawing everyday is my daily multivitamins supplements. I see images, scences, thoughts that evolve my sense of observation. I see it with my artistic mind, have a brainstorming session with my research and references and l start to lay it out.

Sammie pencil on paper 16"by 11" 2015

Sammie pencil on paper 16″by 11″ 2015

How has your work changed in the past five years? How is it the same?

I have been drawing on canvas for over a decade now, using pencil and charcoal with extreme care and great effort. In the past five years, I’ve studying the style and shading techniques on canvas surface and there is an immense improvement. Currently l am embracing textured surface canvas for drawing. I tear apart packaging or things in the trash, newspaper cuttings or out of use traditional Ankara fabric print. I cut, tear and glue them into a drawing.

How have people such as family, friends, writers, philosophers, other artists or even pop icons had an impact on the work you do?

I’ve always excelled in drawing and painting when l was in my kindergarten. My Art teacher saw my pen and ink drawing of a frog jumping over water lilies, she said l must not shy away from what l was born to do. My parents’ encouragement motivates me to draw and colour but my teacher’s encouragement helped my decision to be an artist.

Have you ever been pulled in the direction of a pursuit other than being an artist? What are your other interests?

I feel so sad when l see some of my talented colleagues, set aside their art practice to pursuit another profession. I believe one has to be passionate about your profession. It is the passion for what you love to create that substain you in the time of financial concerns, seeking other creative means to earn a living. I have other interests but nothing could tempt me to set aside my pencils and brushes.


IMG_20140808_110921Clara Aden grew up in the waterside area of Agboyi land in Alapere, where she had her primary and secondary school education. With her inborn artistic talent, encouraged by her mother a fashionista she worked with Soul publication limited as Assistant production Manager and Art illustrator. She attended Federal Technical College Yaba. Recently, she exhibited at the Global images of U. S. Women 2015 exhibition at Slippery Rock University, Pennsylvania, hosted by the Martha Gault Art Society, the Gender studies program and the Know art Project, she participated at the Goethe institut “12 squares” project workshop on Performance Art conducted by the Berlin-based performance group Monster Truck Sahar Rahimi, Sebastian Roniq and Ina Vera. She is a pencilist winning awards in several competitions; Third place 1999 UNFPA International poster contest, the top five visual artists Olokun Festival foundation art competition 2007, Art for Fela Anikulapo-kuti 2007, and the best five visual artists National Patriot Portraiture and Immortalisation awards 2010. She owns Clara Aden Art Studios situated in Lagos, and specialises in Drawing and Painting.

Hausa man work in progress


All images copyright of the artist and used with their permission. 


About 365Artists/365Days

The purpose of this project is to introduce its readership to a diverse collection of art that is being produced at the national and international level. Our goal is to engage the public with information regarding a wide array of creative processes, and present the successes and failures that artists face from day to day. The collaborators hope that this project will become a source for exploring and experiencing contemporary art in all its forms.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s