Africa’s growing art scene turns to private funding

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Rising global interest in the continent’s artworks coincides with a surge of investment from homegrown wealth

With its 165-year-old tortoise, crested cranes and catfish pond, the high-walled garden at Prince Yemisi Shyllon’s Lagos home would feel magical even without its motionless occupants: more than 400 sculptures in bronze, wood, glass fibre and stone. From playful village girls to an ethereal giantess, spear-wielding warriors and a drummer boy with a forlorn tale to tell, the phantasmagoria of life-size people, animals and mysterious beings represents the visions of Nigerian sculptors from the pre-colonial era to the present day. Now in his mid-60s, having accumulated some 7,000 artworks over the past 40 years, Prince Yemisi, who hails from royal Yoruba heritage, wants to secure his legacy. He is building a gallery bearing his name — the Yemisi Shyllon Museum — to showcase his collection for future generations.

Written by Matthew Green for the Financial Times, November 15 2017. Edited by Amy Smith (NIAS)