Friday 8 March 2013

Sculptor, Remi’s ‘World Tallest Drum’ chases Guinness record

By Tajudeen Sowole
 Placed at an imposing view outside Kalakuta Museum, Ikeja, Lagos, a mixed media piece in sculptural drum-depiction tagged World Tallest Drum was actually in a familiar terrain – remnant of late Afrobeat legend’s memorabilia, Fela Anikulapo Kuti.

Potentially a museum piece, the drum stands at 11 feet tall, and on display after it was unveiled, according to it’s promoter, as “World Tallest Drum”, during the last Black History Month celebration in Badagry, Lagos State.

It looked like a perfect addition to the objects and other materials inside the new museum. “The drum is on a temporary display here,” the promoter, Femi Coker clarified during a chat inside the top floor of the museum. “It’s here as a tribute to an African icon, Fela Kuti.”
Sculptor, Jonathan Remi Edward’s ‘World Tallest Drum’
Although not exactly a functional drum, Coker said it could be a novelty to see aagere (masquerades on stilts) play the drum. It’s largely of wood, with image carvings in traditional art forms laced round in up to 10 layers. About half of the drum from top, Coker disclosed, has been dug so that when the surfaced is hit, it produces a tone.

Sculpted by Jonathan Remi Edward under Femi Art Warehouse, the drum, if accorded its deserved due by Guinness Book of World Records would be another score for Nigerian art. In 2010, a painting, which is 33, 696 ft x 138.2, said to have been produced by 250 volunteers, was recorded as “the largest painting by numbers of artists”.

Noting that the current record for drum is “world’s largest drum, which was given based on its size, not height”, Coker hoped that Remi’s work would win the Guinness World Book Record as the tallest drum.

Beyond the chase for a world record, however, he explained that the drum “pays tribute to the immense contributions of blacks and people of African descent to world’s civilization”, adding that it was in “honour of the irrepressible African spirit; a salute to Pan Africanism”.

And in the Pan African spirit, the drum derives its origin from some tribes, including the Yoruba-speaking people of West Africa, Coker disclosed. “It was inspired by the Sato drum of Togo, Benin and and the Ogu people of Badagry and Ogun state.”

The drum, he said took Remi three months to finish. “It was constructed inside the premises of Badagry Heritage Museum, where Femi Art Warehouse is located”, he noted. Coker described the artist as “a naturally gifted artist, almost self-taught, but had tutelage under his elder brother and worked as a studio assistant to late Prof. Ben Enwonwu in the1980s”.

He hoped to take the drum on a tour across the country if he could secure a sponsor.  

Coker is the initiator of Easter Artfest & Badagry International Art Fair in collaboration with the Lagos State Government.

Femi Art Warehouse has been a participant at The International Art Expo in Lagos since its inception and also a member of the Art Galleries Association of Nigeria. Femi Art Warehouse is the creator of The World's Biggest African Textile Collage (Guinness World Record Holder in view).

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