Friday 23 September 2011

Adeola Balogun's monuments

In Madam Tinubu, Glover busts, Balogun leaps higher
By Tajudeen Sowole
(First published May 29, 2007)

Bust of Madam Efuroye Tinubu
Rejuvenation of one of the legacies of British colonial rule in Nigeria and exemplary leadership of a late native amazon, has found boosts in sculptural art, in Lagos.
  That historical moment, in the calendar of the visual arts community, was part of the activities to mark the 40th Anniversary of Lagos State as artist, Musiliu Adeola Balogun’s busts of the nineteenth century colonial governor, Sir John Glover and the popular Lagos trader of that period, Madam Efunroye Tinubu were unveiled on Thursday May 24, 2007 at the Union Bank, Marina, Lagos.
Sir John Glover, born in 1829 was a captain in the British navy before his appointment as governor of Lagos in 1863.
During his tenure, he was said to have rehabilitated Madam Tinubu and returned her to Lagos after Glover’s predecessor,  H.S Freeman sent the strong woman into exiled in Abeokuta for her alleged slavery exploits.

Bust of Sir John Glover (Colonial Governor of Lagos State)
  Madam Tinubu was an active adversary of the British Colonial Government. She was a former slave trader who, on repent, became an active opponent to all slave trade.The busts which were unveiled by the Governor of Lagos State, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, according to the Chairman Board of Trusty of Glover Hall Memorial, Chief Molade Okoya Thomas, are to further affirm the Glover Hall ownership right of the land on which the bank’s building is currently seated. The development, Okoya  Thomas explained, is part of the "out of court settlement"  reached between the Glover Hall Trusty and Union Bank.
   Few metres walk from the Union Bank building, the good old days of the once popular fountain of Tinubu Square was restored as the governor also used the occasion to unveiled the full sculptural statue of Madam Tinubu, done by another artist, Kenny Adamson.
  And as these busts rest at the entrance of the Union Bank building on Customs Street, Marina, Lagos, the artist of the sculptures, Balogun steps farther as an emerging artist of monumental sculptures.
   From Lagos to Ondo, Balogun’s name has been bold on marble, in two other works of leading personalities in the history of Nigeria. After the statue of the late sage, Chief Obafemi Awolowo was set ablaze by an unidentified person at the junction of Allen Avenue, Ikeja, Lagos, about four years ago, the artist was consulted to make another replacement of the sculpture. The Awolowo statue, now a bronze figure, currently standing at the same spot and sculptured by Balogun remains one of the leading public art that are well detailed in the country today.
  And when the artist was asked to come lower to fibre-glass, a less stronger medium as the case with the sculptural statue of late Brigadier Samuel Ademulegun, the aesthetic and other quality were not lost either. During the unveiling, in 2005, of the statue of the late army officer who was killed in the January 1966 military counter coup, otherwise known as ‘mutiny,’ the chief of Army Staff, Lt-General Martin Luther Agwai who led the unveiling ceremony described the fibre glass work of Balogun as "a master piece that befits the personality of the late military officer."
  Each of the works, Balogun noted, offered different challenges. The busts of Glover and Tinubu gave the strongest challenges compared to the statues of Awolowo and Ademulegun, he stated. In the earlier works, the impressions to get resemblance of the subjects, he said, were made easier because the photo references of the personalities were readily available.         
"The only available picture of Tinubu I could lay my hands on was a touched one," he said. He however arrived at his art impression and finished sculpture of the great woman adding other references to that pictures. References in this context, he noted, is not restricted to art works, but what is generally accepted to be people's observations; written or said about the woman.
  A face of slight high cheeks and a look that falls between stern and charming, may be the real capture of a woman said to be as loving and as wild, depending on the situation.  Simple gele (headgear), layers of beads and the vogue in female dressing then, the ipele (shawl), on top of buba (Yoruba native blouse), complete the trendy woman who has been described as a great entertainer of her visitors as a result of exceptional hospitality she gives.
  No matter the volume of picture references made available to an artist in preparing a sculpture of this kind, it helps if the artist can penetrate the mood of the subject, Balogun noted. "In the case of Madam Tinubu, I tried to imagine how a woman of such an enormous power, and yet childless for the rest of her life after losing her two children, would look like." An artist should be able to put all these together and arrive at a picture of his subject. That picture of Tinubu formed from various references, Balogun said, he saw in a lady at Yaba College of Technology, Lagos where he is a lecturer. "I saw that picture in this lady’s face. That made the work easier for me as I used the lady as a model during the preparation for the bust."
  While doing his works, was Balogun aware that some metres away from the Union Bank where the busts were to be placed, a full sculpture of the dreaded woman, was also in the making by another artist? At the end of the day, there might be a conflict of art impression of the same woman, given the fact that there was no specific references to work with.
   That much, he said, was worked out between him and Adamson. "We used the same references at the end of the day," he said.
Even though the artist had quite a number of references to choose from, while preparing the bust of Glover, the racial difference between the two busts also required some caution, particularly when working on such works at the same time, he explained.
  Meanwhile, the hall, which has since its construction in 1896 played host to several performances of films, dramas, social and political events, is set for a face lift. If the thinking of the out going governor was anything to follow, the architect in charge of the proposed new look of the hall and the board of trusty may have to go back to the drawing board.
  After the representative of the architect presented the drawing which unveiled additional one floor to the existing structure of a single floor, Tinubu in his address advised that such plan should be fortified to make the building a high rise edifice like others in the surrounding to add value to the assets of the hall.  This he explained is not impossible to achieve. "The Glover Trusty should look  ahead into the future and create additional value to the assets of the hall by pulling down this structure, if possible, to build a high rise one. Funding can be source through stock exchange," he advised.
  The governor further used the occasion of the unveiling ceremony to tell the management of the Union Bank to partner with Glover Hall to erect a more befitting structure that will meet the standard of the environment.

Sculptor of the busts, Adeola Balogun

   Earlier on in his address, Okoya Thomas has commended the effort of the Lagos State government for giving financial support to Glover Hall Trusty for take off of its phase one rehabilitation of the venue. While challenging critics of the board of trusty to come forward with evidence of mismanagement of the resources of the hall, particularly the compensation from the Union Bank, the chairman assured that the records of the board is open and clean.
  Before his death in 1885, Glover was said to be a popular governor, very much adored by the people. And when in 1887 the people of Lagos decided to build the Jubilee Hall, it was dedicated to Glover. The hall that was later changed to Glover Memorial Hall was built on the land donated to the people by Madam Tinubu.
Madam Tinubu became the first Iyalode of Egbaland and its surroundings) and was able to build a small financial empire through trading in arms and salt. She is currently considered an important figure in history due to her political significance as a strong female leader.
  She died in 1887 leaving behind no children having  lost her two sons during her prime age.
  The popular Tinubu Square on Broad Street, Lagos, (previously Independence Square), was named after her.

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