By Tajudeen Sowole
For art appreciation to expand beyond its elitist circle and also contribute to job creations at the grassroots, artist, Bola Oyetunji’s Baroyet Gallery brings art workshop to Ojodu, a border axis between Lagos and Ogun States.
Designed to cover various genres of art and crafts and accommodate participants across ages, the second phase, which holds during schools’ long holidays is coming just as the first workshop for adults was concluded recently.
Under a slogan or theme Oyetunji tagged “Let’s Talk Art,”, the workshop features drawing. metal embossing and exhibition.
When the workshops opened, speakers at the launching included President of Forum for African Women Educationists (FAWE) Marie Theresa Sojinrin; president of Bead Jewelry Designers Association of Nigeria, Mrs Betty Adepoju; and representative of Small and Medium Enterprise Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN), Mr Yinka Fisher.
Oyetunji recalled that Baroyet was established in 2007, basically as a reference point in bead making, metal embossing, batik and general art making. Art education via workshops, she explained was added a year later. Reason: “ I found out that art education was diminishing in schools”. So, she started with the first programme “Ojodu and its Environs Community Art Awareness, which involved established artists, and workshops for senior secondary schools”.
On education outside the formal setting, Sojinrin disclosed that FAWE “originally started with focus on women, but we realized the need to involve the young ones too”. She noted that as Baroyet is all about skill acquisition, “we want to assist, even though there are challenges of our own”.
Adepoju who claimed that the membership of her association has risen sharply, noted ignorance of the general public on the contribution of bead making to economic growth. “Bead jewelry is a big business, but unfortunately people do not take us seriously”.
And if the over all projection of informal skill acquisition is about small business, the representative of SMEDAN, Fisher informed the gathering that the responsibility of his organization is to help private initiative such as Baroyet formalise their business. He said “we help in building capacity, networking and organizing training”. In fact, Fisher disclosed that “Mrs Oyetunji is one of our students”. He however cautioned that “we don’t give funding, but assist people to connect financiers”.
Also speaking at the launch, artist and teacher, Olojo Kosoko chided government for not coming to the aid of small businesses, particularly the creative sectors.
Oyetunji elaborated on the workshops: “There will be dialog between the participants and the artist. it will be an opportunity for the participants to meet and talk with great elderly artists who have made their foot steps on the sounds of time in art practice. Participants will work with professional artists on drawing and metal embossing to produce great works fit for decoration and also earn them their pride”.
One of the past activities of Baroyet in bringing art to the grassroots involved a group art exhibition titled Home Grown. Which featured Oyetunji, Elder J.I. Akande, Olojo and Adedayo Dada.
Before seting up Baroyet, Oyetunji trained in Health Records Technology at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), her spjpurn into art started in 1981, being wife of a Nigerian expatriate in oil rich South East Asian country, Brunei.
On her return to Nigeria in 1982, she met Bruce Onobrakpeya and worked as an artist-in -residence at his Ovuomaroro Studio, Papa Ajao, Mushin, Lagos. With works from other artists and of diverse mediums, Baroyet Gallery is expanding its scope to meet the mission of instituting major art attraction in that locality.
For the workshops of this year, there will be an exihibition of the works produced during the programme. Oyetunji assured that “by the time the workshop ends the participants’ knowledge in art will not be the same again. it will change their orientation to art practice and to life in general”.