Judith Daduut is an up-and-coming sculptor based in Jos, Plateau State. She is a Fine Arts graduate from Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, with specialisation in Sculpture, and a Master’s degree in Art and Design from Birmingham City University, United Kingdom, where she won the Ikon Gallery Art Prize for Masters Degree 2014.
The artist often explores various art media to express her ideas, ranging from metal, wood, body filler, fiberglass etc as long as it best suits the idea she intends to express. As a way of using her art profession to advance humanity, she is currently taking training courses in mental health and drug addiction to pursue a career in Art Therapy.
Art, on its own, she says, engages the mind, the body, and, in fact, the whole being. While an individual is at it, it tends to take his/her mind off and allows the individual to focus on creating, as well as trying to express his/herself. She believes an individual cannot go wrong with art and there is no right or wrong in art; just create.
She has participated in various art competitions. She emerged as one of the 25 finalists at Life in My City Arts Festival (LIMCAF), Enugu State Nigeria (2016). The following year, she won the Best Sculpture/Ceramics /Installation Category at Life in My City Arts Festival (LIMCAF), Enugu State. She also won the Most Outstanding Lady Category at Life in My City Arts Festival (LIMCAF) Enugu State (2018).
Recently, she participated at the Rele Arts Foundation, Young Contemporaries 2020 Boot camp and exhibition held at Bon Hotel, Ado Ekiti, Ekiti State (2019), where she was selected from 25 other artists as a 2020 Rele Arts Foundation, Young Contemporary Artist.
Being chosen to participate at the Rele Art Foundation Young Contemporaries Programme was an unforgettable experience for her. “I was ecstatic. Being selected to be one of the 25 artists to attend the boot camp at Ekiti, that alone was exhilarating for me. Coming from boot camp where I met 24 other artists all talented in their various genres of Art and all worthy of being selected, let alone being selected to be a 2020 Rele Arts Foundation young contemporary, I felt thrilled; in fact, I still am.”
As a sculptor, using clay is almost inevitable for her, but she considers clay to be like the pencil of sculpture: “It is one medium that is quite easy to manipulate and very flexible to work with. When a person begins to work with clay to create an artwork and does not feel satisfied with the work, he/she can easily modify it or simply wreck it and begin all over. After all an adage says, ‘practice makes perfect’.”
The most challenging work she has ever done was as an undergraduate, Life Sculpture Examination: Man, at Quarry, in which a model posed in the studio. “It was a three-day examination,” she says.
On the first day, she started well, but did not like the work along the way, so she scattered it. She tried again and again, but was still not satisfied with the outcome, and scattered it over and over. The same thing happened the second day, where she kept trying and yet ended up with just a pile of clay at the end of the day. Finally, she told herself that “I can do it” and, on the third and final day, she did it. Although it wasn’t perfect, it was the best she had done and she was so happy.
More recently, however, she did a somewhat challenging piece of sculpture at the just concluded Rele Young Contemporary exhibition with the title Abandoned.
The artist explains: “The piece focuses on mental health challenges and how there seems to have been a suicidal surge in Nigeria lately for different reasons.” One of the ideas was not all that striking, and she destroyed and reconstructed it over about three different times in the hope of getting it right each time.
With the ongoing lockdown in the country, the sculptor says it has affected her positively, because it affords her the opportunity to conceptualise some of her ideas, practice, and explore them. Luckily, she has stashes of clay in her studio, so she can easily work. She also has a book where she writes her ideas, conceptualise and work on them.
How long does it take her to complete a sculptural work and what are the processes involved? “It all starts with an idea. Once I have the idea or what I’m trying to communicate within the piece, I begin to research and gather references and materials, and then work begins “