‘Return our bronzes and we’ll make you better ones’

Lifestyle

‘Return our bronzes and we’ll make you better ones’

Nigerian guild says a centuries-old art form is thriving and it can give Britain better works in return for originals

Tife Owolabi and Estelle Shirbon

A new guild of artists from Nigeria’s Benin City has offered to donate artworks to the British Museum in London as a way to encourage it to return the priceless Benin Bronzes that were looted from the city’s royal court by British troops in 1897.

Created in the once-mighty kingdom of Benin from at least the 16th century onwards, the bronze and brass sculptures are among Africa’s finest and most culturally significant artefacts. European museums that house them have faced years of criticism because of their status as loot and symbols of colonial greed.

The Ahiamwen Guild of artists and bronze casters says it wants to change the terms of the debate by giving the British Museum contemporary artworks, untainted by any history of looting, that showcase Benin City’s modern-day culture...

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