‘Still Standing’, an artwork by Victor Ehikhamenor, the Nigerian photographer, has been put on display at St. Paul’s Cathedral in London.
St Paul’s is a national landmark and the cathedral church for the diocese of London.
On Thursday, the church put the new artwork on display in the crypt from February 17 to May 14, 2022.
The mixed-media work has been acquired by the University of Oxford’s Pitt Rivers Museum.
It forms part of 50 monuments in 50 voices, a partnership between St Paul’s Cathedral and the department of History of Art at the University of York.
The project is to invite contemporary artists, poets, musicians, theologians, performers, and academics to showcase their individual responses to 50 historic monuments across the cathedral.
Based in Lagos, Nigeria, and Maryland in the United States, Ehikhamenor is renowned for his broad practice comprising painting, sculpture, photography, and unique works on paper.
His richly-patterned works use symbolism from both traditional Edo religion and catholicism, reflecting on the confluence of African and Western cultures.
‘Still Standing’ combines rosary beads and Benin bronze hip ornament masks to depict an Oba (king) of Benin.
‘Still Standing’ has been commissioned by Dan Hicks, professor of contemporary archaeology at the University of Oxford who is also a curator at the Pitt Rivers Museum; and Simon Carter, the head of collections at St Paul’s.
Speaking about the development, Ehikhamenor said: “History never sleeps nor slumbers. For me to be responding to the memorial brass of Admiral Sir Harry Holdsworth Rawson who led British troops in the sacking of the Benin Kingdom 125 years ago is a testament to this.
“The installation Still Standing was inspired by the resolute Oba Ovonramwen who was the reigning king of Benin Kingdom at the time of the expedition.
“But the artwork also memorializes the citizens and unknown gallant Benin soldiers who lost their lives in 1897 as well as the vibrant continuity of the kingdom till this day.
“I hope that we, the descendants of innumerable uncomfortable thorny pasts, will begin to have meaningful and balanced conversations through projects such as 50 Monuments in 50 Voices.”