Saturday 20 July 2013

After two decades in Lagos, Experience Nigeria goes to Abuja with Splashes

Although Experience Nigeria is the oldest yearly art competition and exhibition event in the country, but as it is currently preparing for its 22nd edition, the organisers hope to expand its scope..
  For its 2013 edition tagged Splashes of Nigeria… Shades of things To Come, late renowned artist, Gani Odutokun gets posthumour recognition.  Organised by African Art Resource Centre {AARC}, Experience Nigeria is expanding its scope by taking it to Abuja. The organisers’ decision to move it from Lagos where it has been held since 1991 may just be the change required to get  a broader attention, the director and founder, Oladele Olaopa stated.
Scheduled to hold in November at Transcorp Hilton Hotel, FCT, Abuja, the event, according to Olaopa is taking off now to avail interested artists submit their works early enough for jury. Also, the long duration of preparation, he added, affords potential corporate sponsors and supporters of Experience Nigeria 2013 an opportunity to make input into the success of the event.
Thematically, the 2013 edition, Olaopa disclosed, is geared towards “encouraging optimism among Nigerians”. He noted that at this period of Nigeria’s economic and political challenges, art should be used to the difference by continuing to play the role of a medium “for social changes and understanding between government and the people”.
An estimated 100 entries of works are expected for the competition, but only three, he said will be given prizes during the grand finale at Transcorp Hilton. “The top prizes are N100, 000, First; N250, 000, Second; and N150, 000 for the Third place”. However, the prizes are not restricted to the top three. “The next three winners also get N50, 000 each”.  
In tribute to Odutoku, Experience Nigeria has tagged the first prize of the 2013 edition ‘Gani Odutokun Prize’. This is remembering the Ahmadu Bello University art teacher “for his contribution to the development of Nigerian art. In particular, Olaopa recalled that Odutokun “encouraged me to continue art event, even though I met in just for a short period”.
Other categories of awards include Life Achievement, Art Teacher of the Yea and Sponsors of the Year.
In addition to art competition, AARC also organizes art exhibitions for selected artists as well as Children Creative Camp. For the exhibition, twice it had focused special area such as sport, which was uncommon in art promotion. .This much was witnessed in 2011 at a show, which had AARC took art to the golf court in Ikoyi Club 1938. Works of over 40 artists were viewed by golfers, sharing the beauty of creativity.
After 22 years, Experience Nigeria – the grandfather of art competitions – is still not ”properly funded”. How has AARC kept the show going till date? The challenges faced by a huge army of young artists has been the motivation to keep Experience Nigeria art going, Oplopa stated . he was worried that “cost of staging art exhibitions is increasingly out of reach for young artists” noting that art galleries also have their preference, making it extremely difficult to encourage young artists.
Olaopa was hopeful for support so that as the “past editions of Experience Nigeria has empowered artists from different medium through the art competitions, “the future of the show will get better if more corporate support comes our way”.
Last year, Larry Isima’s painting titled Life, won the first prize at the grand finale and exhibition held at National Museum, Onikan, Lagos winner of the art competition,  
Also,after last year’s event Olaopa said over 80 children from Ayotayo Comprehensive School, Daniella's Montessori School and Little Saints Orphanage were engaged in three specially designed activities,”    .   

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