Bubu Ogisi: I am not myself at The Tetley

Part of our Exhibitions guide

Maja Lorkowska, Exhibitions Editor
Bubu Ogisi, I am not myself, 2022. Photo: Holly Marie Cato

Bubu Ogisi at The Tetley, 7 May–29 August 2022, free entry - Visit now

Textile art is going through an undeniable renaissance now and The Tetley’s exhibition of works by Bubu Ogisi is a wonderful example of their versatility. I am not myself is an exhibition based on the theme of spirituality and rituals involving masquerading which can be described as a spiritual practice, a connection to tradition, and a way of expanding our consciousness to encompass our bodies, environment and the supernatural realm.

Born in Nigeria, Ogisi is a textile fibre artist and creative director of contemporary womenswear brand, IAMISIGO. Her practice in all its aspects emphasises the importance of craft and the value of working with her hands. Ogisi concentrates on the complexity of African culture and celebrates the differences between different countries of the continent. Indeed, having spent time in London, Paris and all around Africa, the artist has a unique perspective and appreciation of the culture and style from both an insider and outsider perspective.

Bubu Ogisi, Language as material, 2022
Bubu Ogisi, If you don’t dance the spirit whose face you wear will eat you, 2022. Installation view at The Tetley, 2022. Photo: Jules Lister


The artworks exhibited in the show examine and visualise how the body moves and interacts with space, through textile installations incorporating wearable sculpture. Sacred Grove is a particular highlight of the show which is a space that is both partly immersive but also has the potential to be activated by performance. The floor is covered with shredded tyres adding an uneven floor surface, as well as an olfactory element to the visitors’ experience with the smell of rubber.

The titular sacred grove is a space for the safekeeping of objects used in masquerading which Ogisi explores as a practice that decolonises the space. These objects, made from metal and silver PVC, are imbued with the power of spiritual potential having previously been used during a ritual ceremony performed by dance artist Mayowa Ogunnaike during the opening of the exhibition. They’re now left in the space for the duration of the show, yet as the artist explains, they offer the possibility of “spiritual transfiguration” meaning a release from the self in order to be under the control of spirits and supernatural forces.

Bubu Ogisi, Language as material, 2022. Installation view at The Tetley, 2022. Photo: Jules Lister


Ogisi often uses a mix of organic and recycled materials and during her 2022 residency at The Tetley, she worked with local Leeds makers to produce a tapestry. Outside of the gallery viewers will find four flags printed on fabric made from recycled plastic bottles, which represent the coming together of different communities while the use of colour and its symbolism is taken from ancient African scripts, specifically Adinkra, Nsibidi and Bantu.

The exhibition is the culmination of The Tetley’s Here, There & Everywhere partnership with New Art Exchange.

Bubu Ogisi at The Tetley

7 May–29 August 2022
Free entry