6 December 2012

Nigeria: Waste to Art - Journey in Creative Expression


The Department of Creative Arts,University of Lagos came alive last week when it hosted the eleventh edition of Art Is Everywhere (AIE) workshop.

Art Is Everywhere is a waste-to-art workshop founded in 2005 at the Department of Fine and Applied Arts, Institute of Management and Technology (IMT), Enugu. The workshop which has had a tour of many states in the country came to the South West for the first time last week and held at the Department of Creative Arts, University of Lagos.

According to the Project Coordinator, Ayo Adewunmi, Lagos was chosen for the 2012 edition of the Workshop so as to give artists in the region opportunity to access and explore waste materials that are peculiar to the environment for creative purposes.

Since inception in 2007, the project has held in Jos, Kaduna and Abuja and has had participants from Uganda, Zambia, Ghana, Benin and Togo. In 2010, the workshop returned to the North for the 10th edition.

The return leg of the project in North , which held at Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria had in attendance 52 participants,which represented the highest number of participants in the programme since inception.. At that workshop, there were six international participants from Gambia, Senegal, Togo and Benin Republic.

This year, the eleventh edition of Art Is Everywhere workshop which took place at the University of Lagos was coordinated by a cream of talented professionals, including, Akin Onipede of the Creative Arts Department, UniLag; Ike Francis, a Lecturer at University of Port Harcourt; Okechukwu Eze, Lagos based artist and the AIE Assistant Project Coordinator; Chike Obeagu, who lectures at the Federal University, Lafia, Nasarawa.

It had in attendance a total of 25 artists who came from Lagos, Abeokuta, Markurdi Enugu and Benin Republic to participate at the workshop. Participants comprised students and studio professionals as well as teachers of art. At the opening lecture held on Monday the 19th of November, the Project Coordinator, Ayo Adewunmi, gave a slide presentation on the history of Art Is Everywhere Project and explained its objectives.

Thereafter, the participants went out in groups of fives to source wastes for the remaining part of the first day. On the morning of the 2nd day, participants engaged the waste materials collected the previous day by interrogating them with the view to evaluating their potentials for reuse and creative expressions.

On Wednesday the 21st of November, one of the resource persons, Ike Francis gave a lecture on the theme "Man Changing Form". In the course of his lecture, he explained how his art has transformed over the years. He noted that "is a phenomenon that accords culture its dynamic value and that all other elements of culture revolve around the concept of change. ".

One of the disappointments noticed at the Lagos workshop was the inability of the participants to visit the Lagos beach to source for waste materials. This arrangement according to our source did not materialise because of growing concerns over insecurity coupled with the ongoing reconstruction work at the beach.

Nevertheless some of the waste materials initially collected from the beach by, Okechukwu Eze, one of the coordinators were made available for use.

By the end of the 5thday of the workshop, most of the artists had surpassed their target of two major projects and had their accomplished works mounted for the closing exhibition. One of the most fascination works from the project was a work titled "Hot Seat" by John Adenle.

It was made with a discarded chair, branded polythene wrappers, melted and grinned plastics and nails. The seat was laced with nails, plastics and other sharp objects. The work speaks about the uneasiness that characterises seat of power at all levels.

Another work, "Communication" by Faustin Adeniran depicts the digital age of communication with its over-dependence on communication and digital gadgets. The work also points to the challenge of digital and communication pollution of the environment as well as pollution of the mind.

The work of Ike Francis titled "Once in the Blue Moon" made from cans of shoe polish, cds, plastics and other materials illustrates opportunities that one seldom have. Opportunity of food for the starved and denied privileges for the deprived in a country where ironically the few oppress the majority.

The UniLag workshop did not end without a sightseeing visit to Omooba Yemisi Adedoyin Shyllon Art Foundation (OYASAF), where Engr. Yemisi Shyllon gave a talk on the collection of the foundation. Engr Shyllon also called on the artists to exhibit professionalism in the way they go about their practice even as he enjoined them to take advantage of the AIE workshop to improve their God's given potentials.

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