Photography / Rising Photographers

Lagos’s skate scene through the lens of Vvaeske

Motherlan is the Nigerian skateboard collective boasting collaborations with Skepta and Angelo Baque.

“It’s pretty inspiring to see other young Nigerians so focused on their craft and very conscious and sure of their identity,” said Vvaeske on Motherlan, the photographer who spent a day with the skate and streetwear collective in Lagos, Nigeria last year.

Founded in 2016 by skaters Obikwe, Ehi, Leonard, Slawn, Jamal, Onyedi, Nathan and Max, Motherlan has been quick to put Nigerian skate and streetwear on the map.  In such a short period they achieved so much: Skepta took them on his HOMECOMING tour in 2018, included the crew members in his Nigeria exclusive Off-White line and in the music video for his track ‘Energy (Stay Far Away)’. Motherlan have also collaborated with former Supreme Brand Manager Angelo Baque and hosted pop-up shops internationally. Their collections are a contemporary take on traditional Nigerian prints and imagery, reflecting on the current moment Lagos is having over underground and mainstream fashion and music; Mowlola, Skepta, Naomi Campbell and Ruth Ossai are at the forefront in celebrating the country’s heritage and combining it with creative industries.

London based Vvaeske, real name Damilare, hails from Nigeria and captured Motherlan while on a recent family trip to Lagos. It was his first time returning to the city for nearly a decade, and so photographing the crew had actually been unintentional: “I had just wanted to document how the city had changed”, said Vvaeske. He caught up with Motherlan just before they first went on tour with Skepta, “We caught a ride from the shop to the skatepark, an old basketball court; there were five of us crammed into one Keke (rickshaw), which was a bit sketchy” (laughs). Since its origins, skating has always had a DIY ethic – it’s how the sport was born – and while in America and Europe skate parks have now been built due to its massive growth in popularity, Lagos is yet to have these official dedicated spaces for skating. This means that collectives like Motherlan make the most of their situations by creating innovative areas like the basketball court Vvaeske mentioned before. Motherlan have transformed parts of the space by building single ramps but “there are still little kids running about getting in the way on purpose.”

Originally starting out a career in fashion photography, Vvaekse moved to documentary as “it feels more fulfilling sharing someone else’s story”, shown by the prominent anthropological skill throughout his Motherlan series, capturing the electric creative scene pulsing through the city alongside the sheer joy a group of young guys are experiencing with DIY skate. What does Lagos mean to you, Vvaeske? “The Motherland.”

Click through the gallery below for a look into Vvaeske’s work.

25 September 2019