Wednesday 7 August 2019

Dale, master of stained glass, beads art dies at 71

David Dale (left) with late art patron, Chief Rasheed Gbadamosi and wife during a Soiree organised in 2012 for Dale.
Master mixed media artist, David Herbert Dale died yesterday morning, aged 72.
According to Adeniyi Adetula, his manager, Dale died at Military Hospital, Jibowu, 4 00 a.m. on Tuesday, August 6, 2019.

 Known for his works in mostly beads and stained glass, Dale had over 70 art exhibitions since July 1967 when he made his debut in Lagos. Dale was a graphic consultant, African Architectural Technology Exhibition for FESTAC ’77. He also taught Visual Communication for 13 years, at the Department of Architecture, University of Lagos.

Dale was born November 22, 1947 to an English father and a Nigerian mother. He studied Fine Art and Arts History at Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria, graduated in 1971, specializing in Illustration and Graphic Design. He worked consistently in 23 different media in over five decades career. Among his regular medium are oil, beads, glass, water colour, gouache, stained glass in three different styles - wrought iron, etchings, mosaic, and lino print.

Since he took ill nearly ten years ago, quite a number of events have been organised by community of art lovers in Lagos to support his medical bills. Nigeria's number one auction house Arthouse Contemporary dedicated one of its charity lots to raise funds for Dale in Lagos. Among the early supports for Dale came from one of Africa's leading collectors, Prince Yemisi Shyllon who, according to sources, "picked the initial medical bills" of the prolific artist. In 2012, another collector, Chief Rasheed Gbadamosi organised 'Dale Soiree', a private viewing of the ailing artist's select works.

In 2015, Quintessence Gallery led by Chief Mrs. Aino Oni-Okpaku organised 'Lottery for David Dale' and got the support of Mrs. Elisabeth Seriki, the gallery stated shortly after the event. "All our friends in the art also supported the cause to enable us support Dale's rehabilitation medical bills."

Dale's works have featured in 58 exhibitions world wide in countries such as U.S., U.K., Canada, former USSR, Germany, Spain, France, Holland, Sweden, Brazil, Japan, Australia and New Zealand. His commissioned works in stained glass can be found at Our Saviour’s Church, Onikan; Mosaic at St. Agnes Catholic Church, Maryland; murals at MTN building Ibadan, Oyo State; State House Marina, Lagos; Shell headquarters, Nigerian and Stock Exchange, Lagos.

Perhaps, the biggest honour to Dale came in the Gbadamosi-oragnaised Soiree, in 2012. It was a celebration of 40-year-old relationship between the collector and the artist. Held at Grillo Pavilion Annexe, Ikoyi, Lagos, the 30 works of Dale on display stressed consistency and loyalty between the artist and his patron. Gbadamosi recalled how he first encountered Dale’s work during a soiree in 1971/72, when he saw a piece titled, ‘Tiger in the Cornfield’. He described the piece as the toast of Dale’s works,”noting that it symbolised early icon of his oeuvre.”

David Dale (left) and Chief Mrs. Aino Oni-Okpaku during a fundraising in 2015.
Dale's works featured in Living Masters, a group exhibition organised in 2007 by Sinmidele Adesanya-led Mydrim Gallery at Terra Kulture,  Victoria Island, Lagos. Also, the same year, what perhaps would be his last major solo exhibition titled Update, at Quintessence included quite a number of beads - one medium in which he had firmly established his skills. At the exhibition, Dale, who was also known in the stained glass genre added colour and class to that old painting technique in a modified medium known as acid etched mirror stained glass.

Among the works on display is Multiplicity Makes for Strenghth, a piece of nine hands placed one after the other to form a ring round a moon-like beam. How else could one have appreciated the beauty of this work if not in the fingers nail highlighted by the acid. Perhaps the strength of the work is further noticed in the glow highlight of the encircled beam.

Dale's love for birds was also noticed in the exhibition, so explains 'Peace, Peace Arriving I', 'Peace Arriving II', and 'Home is Nest'. The artist’s apparent passion for birds continues as he takes one on a flight to as far as South America in another work, Tropical Rain Forest {Brazil).

Dale explained his passion for birds. He said "birds are amazing lot to watch," disclosing that in his compound, he devotes time to observe them. That observation further took him to South America. "Over there, the environment makes for habitation of beautiful birds."

The exhibition also included a piece titled Mirage? The work offers creatures of opposite speeches; ducks and fishes in flight under the same habitation. The only human figural piece of the show, Homeward Bound captures at sun set, an arrival from the forest or farm, of a lad with what looked like a bunch of fire woods. Again, the acid makes a strong impact here as the medium that highlights the image, shooting it out from the bold sun set ring.
Two diversions from the stained glass texture of the show were the works of oil on boards: Migrating Birds and Human Endavours, an abstraction in motifs.

For every show, Dale always brought forth something new. In Update, the artist was more mobile. From the birds he captures in flight, arrival or take off, to the horses, a wave in action, an angel from another realm, an orchard from above and retiring home from the farm, Dale’s thought keeps one in motion.
 - Tajudeen Sowole.

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