Harmattan holds creativity feast for Nigeria’s golden jubilee
By Ozolua Uhakheme
Fifty years ago, he was among the Zaria Rebels from the premier art school, the Nigerian College of Arts and Science, Zaria (now Ahmadu Bello University), who participated in the art exhibition at the independence Trade Fair in Marina, Lagos. This year, Dr. Bruce Onobrakpeya will lead a pack of seasoned artists to celebrate Nigeria’s 50th independence anniversary at the Harmattan workshop in Agbarha-Ottor, Delta State.
Beyond that, the Bruce Onobrakpeya Foundation (BOF), organisers of the workshop, is considering running the event for nine months in the year to provide greater opportunity for artistic growth.
"What we intend doing is to progress in such a manner that the workshop can run for upward of nine months in a year. And we are also considering hiring a resident director, a curator and an outfit that will take charge of these events all - year round," Onobrakpeya said. He added that the centre has fulfilled its social role within the Niger Delta region.
According to him, the workshop has, in the last eleven years done very well. He noted, however , that the growth of every human endeavour should be gradual and upward. "And if we have done this consistently for eleven years, then we have done very well," he added.
Onobrakpeya, who acknowledged that he learnt much from the various artists who have participated in the workshop since inception, lamented the paucity of funds which hindered expansion of the centre and its support for foreign participants.
The annual Harmattan workshop, a retreat where artists meet to think, work, experiment and share ideas to sustain creative inspiration for the development of visual art, has evolved into four sessions, beginning from February 14 till August 2010.
The first three sessions are February 14 to 27; February 28 to March 13; and March 14 to 27, 2010. The August leg of the workshop, according to a statement by the foundation, is for artists who wish to develop their inspiration without any supervision as was the case in the three previous sessions.
Holding at the Niger-Delta Art and Culture, Agbarha-Otor, Delta State, the 12
th edition of the workshop promises to be very exciting. Renowned visual artists such as the immediate past president of Society of Nigerian Artists, Kolade Oshinowo; Chief Jimoh Buraimoh, Ndidi Dike and Jide Adeniyi Jones, have indicated their intentions to be part of the workshop. Also, artists are coming from across and beyond Nigeria to work, rub minds and share experiences. Author of Nigeria’s Who is Who in the art, Janet Stanley, is expected to be at the workshop.
The workshop sessions will feature painting, mixed media printmaking, textile, metal construction, stone carving, ceramics, jewelry, photography, wood carving and leather craft; with two themes for lectures and presentations. The themes are Uhanghwa: 50 years of artistic creativity in Nigeria, and Eghwere: Hunting.
The Harmattan workshop, founded in 1998 by Onobrakpeya, an experimental artist, is an informal educational setup inspired by the series of workshops organised by Ulli Beier at Ibadan, Oshogbo, Ile-ife and the Haystack Mountain School of Arts and Crafts, Deer Isle, Maine, USA, which Onobrakpeya attended in the 60s and 70s.
It is arguably the flagship programme of the BO F, a non governmental organization. Apart from the eight weeks intensive programme (of two weeks per session), the Harmattan workshop is literarily active all year.
The galleries, which exhibit within the complex collection of art works (traditional and modern), including those of Onobrakpeya, are open to the public, students and researchers. There are enough accommodation facilities for groups and individuals. With permission, alumni members are allowed to work in the studio, using the available, particularly the etching presses, during the off season. Schools and other groups are similarly admitted for special programmes.
The Harmattan workshop is instructive and interactive, allowing for people of different backgrounds to gain theoretical and practical experiences from each other.
Facilitators, who are carefully selected are also participants who engage in their own creations during the session but are looked up to by participants for leadership and instruction during the workshop. Special crafts programmes are designed to enable some of the participants acquires skills to make a living.
Among them are Kunle Adeyemi, Dr. Peju Layiwola, Folu Folorunso, Ademola Williams, Adeola Balogun, Prof. John Agberia, Sam Ovraiti, Prince Nathaniel Momoh, Oladapo Afolayan.
Other activities that will hold during the workshop include exhibition of photographs, Reflections by Olusegun Fayemi, a Prof. of pathology at the New York University, USA, Eghwere, a mixed media installation by Bruce Onobrakpeya and eight on-going solo and group art exhibitions.
Interested participants are expected to obtain forms from Bruce Onobrakpeya Foundation at 41, Oloje Street, Mushin, Lagos or 10, Elsie Femi Pearse Street, Victoria Island, Lagos upon payment of N15,000 or N10,000 (student) to Bruce Onobrakpeya Foundation’s account Number 0151050000020 Union Bank PLc. Also, January 7, 2010 is deadline for submission of papers for the workshop while applicants are expected to complete all processes before January 31.
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