Sokari Douglas Camp
London-based sculptor



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Sokari Douglas Camp
London-based sculptor
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ldewey's picture


Badass Nigerian artist Sokari Douglas Camp does the welding herself.

Sculptor Sokari Douglas Camp was born in Nigeria and raised by her anthropologist brother-in-law. This lovely fellow shipped her off to an English boarding school at the tender age of eight. (Georgia O'Keeffe and Shepard Fairey are other notable boarding school alums).  Sokari only returned for a visit once her studies were complete. I guess the timing of that trip was pretty fortuitous-- on this visit, Sokari met architect husband Alan Camp. 

Camp is a self-confessed disaster at painting: “I was not good at painting so I thought I should try sculpture, as I liked putting my hand in my work.” We’re glad she made the switch, because her phenomenal larger-than-life steel figures, inspired by the difficult politics surrounding her Nigerian Kalabari roots, have set her apart as a force to be reckoned with. Even the Queen of England recognized her talent and awarded her the title of Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in 2005. That’s practically knighthood! We’d also like to point out that she’s one of the few black women with a portrait in London’s National Portrait Gallery.

As a woman, Sokari is not permitted to be a sculptor in her homeland of Kalabari, Nigeria. In her work, Sokari fights against both this prohibition and the connotations of her own placement within Western institutions. But Camp isn’t all hard-hitting political commentary-- in explaining why the man in Naked Big Fish is dressed in a revealing string vest, she joked, "I like black men in string vests. I love that their nipples can be caught in the string." Pretty steamy stuff, Sokari.

rzarlif's picture


Politics, religion, and fashion have rarely gone together so nicely.

As Priscilla Frank points out, if the Tin Man from the Wizard of Oz had "wished for a new outfit instead of a heart, he may look something like a Camp creation."

Camp was born and raised in Nigeria's Niger Delta by an English in-law and anthropogist. If a childhood of anthro wasn't enough, Camp then went for a degree at the California College of Arts and Crafts in Oakland, California, birthplace of the Black Panther revolutionaries. (And neighboring city to Sartle HQ.)

The Niger Delta is a uniquely insane place where enourmous oil wealth has bred many forms of evil. Civil war, famine, guerrilla movements, and if that isn't enough, people keep blowing up the oil pipelines, so whole areas are soaked in thick black tar. Don't drink the water. If only the government and oil companies would share some of the oil wealth much of this could be avoided. 


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Here is what Wikipedia says about Sokari Douglas Camp

Sokari Douglas Camp CBE (born 1958 in Nigeria) is a London-based artist who has had exhibitions all over the world and was the recipient of a bursary from the Henry Moore Foundation. She was honoured as a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2005 Birthday Honours list.


Early years and education

Camp was born in Buguma, Nigeria, a Kalabari town in the Niger Delta. She was raised by her brother-in-law, the anthropologist Robin Horton. She studied art at the California College of Arts and Crafts in Oakland, California (1979–80), earned her BA degree at the Central School of Art and Design (1980–83), London, and her MA from the Royal College of Art (1983–86).

She participated in the 1989 Pachipamwe II Workshop held at Cyrene Mission outside Bulawayo, Zimbabwe alongside such luminaries as Joram Mariga, Bernard Matemera, Bill Ainslie, Voti Thebe, Adam Madebe and David Koloane.

Work and career

Her work is predominantly sculpted in steel and takes inspiration from her Kalabari heritage, Nigerian cultures and her life in the UK. She has worked with the Smithsonian and the British Museum and her work is in their permanent collections. Her sculptures are held in other museum collections in Europe, Britain and Japan and in private collections throughout the world. She has exhibited internationally in galleries, including in Austria, Britain, Cuba, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Japan, Sicily, South Africa, Spain, the United States.

Among her notable solo shows are Spirits in Steel – The Art of the Kalabari Masquerade at the American Museum of Natural History, New York (1998–99); and Imagined Steel at The Lowry Arts Centre, Manchester, which toured to the Oriel Mostyn Gallery, Llandudno; Brewery Art Centre, Cirencester; and Derby Museum and Art Gallery (2002–03). In 2005 she collaborated with Ground Force to create work for the Africa Garden at the British Museum, as part of the UK-wide Africa 05 Festival.

In 2003 her proposal NO-O-War No-O-War-R was shortlisted for Trafalgar Square's fourth plinth. She was honoured with a CBE in 2005. She has been awarded many commissions for public memorial sculptures, most notably Battle Bus: The Living Memorial to Ken Saro-Wiwa. (2006) In 2012, her sculpture memorial to commemorate slavery, All the World is Now Richer, was exhibited in The House of Commons.

Her piece Green Leaf Barrel (2014) was inspired by the fact that her home, Niger Delta, was struggling because of insignificant jobs and a significant amount of pollution. The figure of the woman represents a woman god who is creating growth from an oil barrel split in two. While creating this piece she wanted to focus on the positive as she felt that the negatives are often so big that they take up more of our conversation. Her work featured in the 2015 exhibition No Colour Bar: Black British Art in Action 1960–1990 at the Guildhall Art Gallery. In 2016 her work Primavera was shown at the October Gallery (7 April – 14 May 2016).

Personal life

Camp is married to the architect Alan Camp and has lived in London for many years.

Check out the full Wikipedia article about Sokari Douglas Camp.