Antoinette Yetunde Oni, M:ARCH Architecture student from Central Saint Martins is the second of two practitioners to be selected for the University of the Arts London (UAL) Art for the Environment residency at Guest Artists Space. The programme, set up by Professor Lucy Orta, provides UAL graduates with the exceptional opportunity to apply for short residencies at internationally renowned host institutions to explore biodiversity, environmental sustainability, social economy and human rights. Antoinette is our first resident at the G.A.S. Farm House. Here she shares some insights into how she hopes to use the opportunity.
What is the current focus of your practice?
My graduation project at Central Saint Martins has focused on the ecological degradation caused by overgrazing and the expansion of desertland in the Sahel Region, West Africa. Nigeria has one of the highest deforestation rates in the world making it incredibly vulnerable to drought, flood and desertification. This sparked my interest in the creation of climate-resilient communities through securing regional food systems from environmentally-induced famine and crop failure, regenerative farming, agroforestry and sustainable land use practices — all of which are needed to combat the looming deforestation issue in Nigeria.
The current focus of my practice is to explore the cultural and material significance of the water hyacinth to not only raise awareness of the invasive plant species but to explore the commercial and ecological value it may have for rural communities in West Africa.
As a multidisciplinary artist and designer, Antoinette uses animation and material assemblage in both her artistic and design practice to create speculative narratives. The above image is a still from her 3D animation of the water hyacinth— the plant species at the centre of her current work.
What drew you to apply for this residency and how do you think it will inform your wider practice?
The Guest Artist Space and the ecological farm were a great inspiration to my research as it aims to put into practice sustainable and regenerative farming practices. I am eager to take part in the fantastic work at the G.A.S. farm and to explore the potential of the water hyacinth plant and the part it could play in green manure, alternative animal feed and hydroponics farming (which is currently being studied in rural communities in Bangladesh).
Can you give us an insight into how you hope to use the opportunity?
I hope to use this opportunity by connecting with local people, farmers and manufacturers, creating awareness about water hyacinth infestations and their potential value as a green commodity and to push my field research of this aquatic species.
Image Credit: Antoinette Yetunde Oni
Antoinette Yetunde Oni is an award-winning architectural designer and multidisciplinary artist working between London and Lagos, Nigeria. With a focus on the Global South, her work addresses postcolonialism, resource degradation and the climate emergency in the urban environment through speculative collage and assemblage installations.
She holds a BA (honours) in architecture from the Manchester School of Architecture and is also an alumna of the Delft University of Technology. She is currently obtaining a Masters in architecture from Central Saint Martins, University of the Arts London.
Antoinette Yetunde Oni was awarded her residency through the University of the Arts London (UAL) Art for the Environment (AER) residency programme. It provides UAL graduates with the opportunity to apply for a funded residency at one of their internationally renowned host institutions, to explore concerns that define the 21st century including biodiversity, environmental sustainability, social economy and human rights.
For more information about Antoinette and her practice follow her on Instagram (@where_you_bintu).
All images courtesy of the artist. Lead image by Papa Omotayo.