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Eat Work Art SPOTLIGHT: Tonye Ekine

Tonye Ekine is a visual artist who uses the Ife bronze mask to create immersive and unusual scenes that highlight the contradictory nature of contemporary social problems in a post-colonial world.

EWA recently visited Tonye in his studio at Cornerstone Studios to find out more.


Could you tell us a bit about yourself and your art practice?

I'm a visual artist who recently completed my MA in Drawing, and you'll often find me in the studio, working away like a dedicated rat! I thrive in the endless cycle of creating and shaping ideas, so it's no surprise that I'm currently honing my portfolio through drawings and paintings.

My artistic focus revolves around the captivating Ife bronze mask. I use these masks as the centerpiece to create immersive and outlandish scenes that carry an unsettling paradox, addressing the complexities of contemporary social problems in a post-colonial world. To breathe life into these scenarios, I draw upon a variety of present-day cultural viewpoints.

I explore a range of themes, including identity, decolonisation, legacy, human interaction, and emotions. To captivate my audience, I often incorporate references from popular culture, drawing them in with a sense of familiarity. I set up a stage and invite the public in as both observers and participants to find themselves and decipher the meaning behind each work.

What's the best part of being an artist?

Being able to enjoy the freedom to create a work of art that goes on to live a life of its own, I think, is one of the best parts of being an artist. I think I am a storyteller. I always like to create striking scenarios that you might not believe exist and bring them to the forefront. I assemble these crazy ideas of mine in one piece to start a conversation.


How have you found Cornerstone Studios?

I love this space! As a creative, the vibe is so important, and as soon as I walked into the building I knew this was where I wanted to be. My colleagues and I moved in early 2023, and it was just great to find a studio space in the heart of Camberwell with diverse creatives in music, fashion, film, and the visual arts. It’s definitely not your traditional studio setting, and I think that's what’s so great about the building.

It is close to Burgess Park, with some great cafes just around the corner. It was a no-brainer for us. I can't wait for all the socials and drinks we will be having on the terrace in the Summer months.

What are you looking forward to this summer?

I plan to binge watch theatre shows, live musicals, and opera houses all Summer long. The older the building, the better. I want to immerse myself in that world and see how I can be inspired by it and maybe create some new pieces from it. I'm really looking forward to the costumes, the architecture, and the themes of it all.

It might not sound like the most exciting summer plan, but it's exciting to me. So if you have recommendations, you know where to find me.

Interested in joining the Cornerstone Studios community? View our available spaces here

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