Eko Corps members show creativity in Main Exhibition

One of Tolani’s works that won last year’s challenge

Wirth a rich cultural and artistic heritage that flourished prior colonial disruption, the huge population, it is expected that Nigeria will be a dominant force in Africa’s art market; unfortunately, this has not been the case.

The patronage of art by Nigerians in the local market does not even make significant contribution compared with its international consumption. In a recent auction by the Art House Contemporary in Lagos, foreign nationals bought Nigerian art as much as local collectors, if not more than them.In Jess Castellote’s report on the Nigerian art market in 2017- art works by Nigerian artists sold at African Art auction in London was $4,655,076, while in Lagos it was $858,188.

In the same report, Njideka Akunyili Crosby sold seven art works at Christies auction for a total combined price of $8,654,744. This amount represent more than one-and-a-half times the total of works sold by the 140 Nigerian artists present at African Art auctions in 2017 ($5,539,648). The founder of Lyno World, Eyimiegha Seidougha Linus, is not happy that the Nigeria art market is still not developed. He is also angry that every government in Nigeria has made ‘diversification’ a Holy Grail, without proving much of how they are going to do it and very little is being done to harness potential of the culture, creative industry.

While the country is turning out graduates from tertiary institutions, the demand for employment is continuously on the rise. Faced with the challenge of creating alternative means for the teeming graduates to get engaged as soon as they graduate, Linus has begun a series of activities to empower the creative arist.

‘‘We have been organising programmes with children in primary schools and secondary schools and now with youth corps members, because we believe that the creative industry in Nigeria is suffering as a result of lack of appreciation, and the future of our industry will be resolute in the right direction if these young people have the right compass reading about art and culture,’’ said Linus. He continued, “our programmes are usually flexible for non art professionals to participate as a means to involve them in creative activities. For Nigeria to boost this industry, we have to go back to our sketchpad and draw the plan for the future of the art industry in Nigeria. History, art and culture should be given preference in primary and secondary schools. Exhibitions and cultural events should also be given the necessary support by government and encouraged at all level of education.”

Another step towards making an impact is the forthcoming Lagos State Corps Members Exhibition. The show holds from September 27 to 29, 2018 at the Negro Art Gallery on Adeniran Ogunsanya, Surulere, Lagos. Titled, Eko Corpers Main Exhibition, it features 20 corps members, who will show their ingenious works in painting, photography, fashion design, architecture, literal art and shoe making.

The exhibiting artists were discovered at the Nation Youth Service Corps (NYSC) Camp Art Challenge, which the outfit has been organising since last year. In the 2018 Batch B, ‘stream 1’, Fabeku Tomisin Tolani, with code number LA/ 18B/ 1583, emerged winner of the fourth challenge contest. Tomisin studied Creative Arts at the University of Lagos specialising in painting. In her portfolio, she has a collection of oil, acrylic, watercolors, illustrations and digital paintings.

Obiora Amaka Gloria, Julius Agbaje and Awodani Kehinde Michael, previous winners, will also be showing their works with other skilled corps members. “Through our events at the orientation camp in collaboration with Lagos State NYSC, we have seen more talents than we imagined and we have created this event to announce them to the world. Interestingly, the participants are graduates from various educational backgrounds ranging from fine arts to law, fashion to management, architecture and so on,” said Linus.

“Our major challenge is that most Nigerians do not understand what the value of art is, and do not even know why someone should expect them to read a poem, let alone, pondering on words. Nigerians do not see preservation of artefacts as an integral part of nation development. We lost it long ago when we started destroying cultural artefacts and celebrating foreign events, as against our cultural activities,” Linus said.

“What baffles me most is that if an artist has not exhibited or sold outside Nigeria (especially in Europe and America) you seem not to have arrived. It is unfortunate that most people involved in creative activities (especially artists/ artistes) have more concern about the financial value they generate from their works than the inherent values that can bring about social change and national development.

“I have noticed that art collectors do not only buy art because they have the money, but they buy because they know it has intrinsic values and appreciate them as much as they listen to good music, as much as the food they eat, as much as they watch interesting movies countless times, as much as they read books they like, and so on. The foreigners that collect our arts have an understanding of historical conservation and documentation of time, which can be found in art works, and they have a good sense of appreciation for the arts. More so, they buy for the purpose of investment.”

According to him, “we have initiated this project to help some of the serving Lagos corps members in the creative industry to make gainful output from their skills. Hence, we are showing works of talented graduates who are creative entrepreneurs in a bid to promote art appreciation, artistic endeavours, educate the public, create opportunity for these graduates to network with professionals and prospective patrons.”

The MAIN on the title of our this exhibition is an acronym for Made in Nigeria, as we want to use this show to promote and encourage Nigerians to patronise what we do and see to how we can put hands together to develop the creative industry locally.

“I see a bigger picture of this project and hope we will take it to the greatest height achievable,” he said.Negro Art Gallery’s collaboration in this project has brought the dream of showcasing the works of Lagos State corps members to reality. Mrs. Funmi Ogbogu the founder of Negro Art gallery, Concept de Dempco, Ona Image and other collaborators that have been contributing towards the promotion of the creative youth corps members in Lagos State.

Source: G Entertainment