Update from Qudus' blog

Jan 8, 2009

UCHE JAMES-IROHA gets the Royal Award

LAGOS - The venue for the Prince Claus Award ceremony was simply set. Guests were treated to relaxing music, drinks and snacks while enjoying the aesthetics of some of Uchechukwu James Iroha's works.

Born in 1972, Enugu. Uchechukwu James Iroha’s artistic career started after studying sculpture at the University of Port Harcourt Art School (Nigeria) from 1990-1995. He started taking photographs in 1996. He is a leading light of a new generation of Nigerian photographers. By fusing the documentation of everyday reality with the creative language of imagery, Uchechukwu expands the possibilities of photography, pushing local art in new directions. His high quality images depict bodies in context, exploring the physicality of existence in the mix of cultures and influences that is 21st century Lagos, a megacity with urgent social issues. Fire, Flesh and Blood (2004), a group of images depicting open-air abattoirs, won the Elan Prize at the African Photography Encounters (2005). While documentary in inspiration, the series plunges the viewer into the chaos of colour, smoke and close-ups that are iconic in their intensity, capturing moments that are at once harsh, powerful and poetic.

Uchechukwu was instrumental in founding the Depth of Field (DOF) collective, bringing six talented young photographers together to create strong exhibitions in Nigeria and abroad. By combining their highly individual perspectives they offer insight into the complexity of their environment. Uchechukwu is also instrumental in mentoring a younger generation of photographers through workshops and seminars. James Iroha Uchechukwu is awarded for his striking photographic work, for his stimulation of photography as a contemporary Nigerian art form, and for his energetic support of young artists. James-Iroha was receiving this year's Prince Claus Award in recognition of his exceptional achievement in the field of photography. The ceremony was a re-enactment of the one held in the Netherlands, which honoured all the recipients of the awards.

The Dutch ambassador to Nigeria, said, "Uchechukwu's work is an excellent example of the theme for this year's award - The Human Body. His artwork is a pinhole to communicate with our lives."
"Uchechukwu is not just a photographer but a movement for a critically better art," saidAbraham Oghobase, his protégé and colleague.
"There is beauty when you do something with innovation and Uchechukwu not only photographs but assists in developing talent," said Luciano Uzuegbu, Programmes co-ordinator of The Ben Enwonwu Foundation.

Uchechukwu dedicated the award to his wife. "I call her ‘Home Made' because she is all African; I thank everyone who made this possible."
Commenting on the contrast of his work, he said, "Colour distracts. When you photograph in colour, your audience tends to get distracted by the colours. Red. Blue. The flashes of colour distract and people miss the stark reality and importance of the piece." On art development in Nigeria, he said, "The only reason I was accepted as an artist in Nigeria is because I have a degree in art. I am happy that Nigerians are recognising photography as an art form; this award strengthens my convictions."

The Prince Claus Fund is a medium for intercultural exchange. The Fund organises activities and publications on contemporary themes in the field of culture and development. Mamoni Roisom Goswani, a writer from India, was presented with this year’s Principal Prince Claus Award of €100,000. Uchechukwu is among the youngest of eleven recipients of this year's awards. Each award comes with €25,000. and the awards are in different categories. Other recipients include Ousmane Sow, a renowned sculptor from Senegal. Carlos Henríquez Consalvi, Venezuelan journalist and broadcaster. Jeanguy Saintus, Haitian visionary choreographer, dancer and educator. Ma Ke, a Chinesse bold voice in contemporary fashion design. Tania Bruguera, a Cuban performance artist. Elia Suleiman, a Palestinian filmmakers. Li Xianting, a Chinesse curator and critic. Venerable Purevbat, an outstanding Mongolian artist and teacher of the Vajrayana Buddhist tradition and Dayanita Singh, an Indian master photographer.

Q'dus Onikeku reporting for myself


  1. Uche...well done man! Really proud and in awe of your achievement.


  2. Chris Dhoorow OgunlowoThursday, February 19, 2009

    Uche is such an inspiration. Good to read this.

  3. Thanx Q'dus for this personal report, I have always been proud of you. Your page on facebook fascinate me alot, because I always look forward to meeting well thinking Nigerians.
    I rather have an authorgraph from Uche, whom I have known from my teenage, than have one with those disgraceful lots in our public office. And I rather have a pose with you Q'dus than one with those failures in our public office.
    You two are making Nigeria and Africa atlarge proud in Europe.
    Welldone and keep up your good works.
    Someday our time will come, and we shall effect the right kind of change to our system, all the things we have learnt in these years of our travel and growth.
    Cheers and One Love Brother!

  4. tanx a lot man 4 tagging me on 2 dis, i'm into fotografi meself and dis here means a lot 2 me.
    nagode aboki na.