Saturday 18 January 2014

With Archie-Abia’s touch, NPA sculpture brightens Tin Can Island roundabout

By Tajudeen Sowole           

Art contents as a vital component in adding aesthetic value to public space is not missing in the redesigning of the newly renovated First Gate roundabout of Tin Can Island, at Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Apapa, Lagos.

The new look of the space, currently, is largely enhanced with a sculptural piece produced by artist, Godwin Archie-Abia, who is a familiar name to the art embellishment of the NPA environment. 
 Though the sculptural work is the familiar NPA logo, it’s been specifically commissioned to replace the old one, which stood at the spot for many years.

Standing 13 feet in actual size of a total 15 feet from the basement, the new NPA sculpture logo emboldens the concept of strength and authority contained in the composite depicted with the images of sea horses and crown. Two sea horses, placed on each side of a crown head lifting or protecting a ship suggests different components coming together for the overall mission of the ship’s safety.

But as an art piece, the challenge of replicating the NPA logo, particularly in metal with such a huge size and bringing the already known identity of the government’s ports agency bare on the environment lies on the shoulder of the artist. But Abia has his interpretation of the concept, particularly the colour combination, yet retaining the maritime flavor.

The new sculpture of NPA logo as public art.

   He explains that the “green, stands for growth, advancement, organization;  black for power strength mystery, richness, elegance, bold; red for Energy, Love, Passion; and yellow for optimism, attention.
On the characters of the components, Abia attributes “strength,” to the sea horse, “The Black shield – protects and honour. the crown and  a harbouring ship.”
  Abia who, in the past, had been commissioned to produced paintings for NPA reception and metal gate further breaks down the new sculpture of the logo. He argues that “the choice of two sea horses holding the black shield signifies unity of purpose, peace co-existence.” He notes that holding the shield stands for exchange, which has quite some spiritual interpretation that energises the whole concept for maximum performance and results of the ports authority.  

The artist sees an art piece beyond the aesthetics value. “Often time individuals and organisations only go after the aesthetics and forget the spiritual aspect of art.” In fact, he cites the NPA logo, specifically, as a test for his spiritual interpretation of an art piece. “Over the years, we had studied and understood the spiritual in-depth of the logo.” Clearly, the artist got an opportunity to interpret the images of the logo when the handlers of the roundabout Seaview Properties gave him the opportunity to refabricate the logo.

The work, Abia stresses, confirms the importance of art content in improving the environment. “That goes to what we have been saying over the years, about beautifying the environment with visual arts on display.”

Abia argues that currently, the NPA gate exudes friendliness that is energised by the sculptural piece. “The serene and friendly environment of the roundabout is more attractive than what it was before. I urge other organization to display and promote their logo on their gates and on major roundabout to stimulate the economic and certain class of people.”

Currently working from his Win Arc Studio and Gallery, in Ikeja, Abia hopes to spread his gospel of art appreciation to the grassroots via his proposed new studio and gallery inside Peace Estate, Ipaja.

He insists that art appreciation at all cadres of the society “ultimately translates to economic buoyancy.” He cautions that “Government can’t provide job for everyone but can create the enabling environment for creativity to blossom.”

On his plans for a new studio, he discloses that “we want to catch them young and make more creative people for the future.”
 As an artist whose studio has a gallery section, which displays his works and other artists, his experience in commercial art over the past two decades should come into place when he moves into the new proposed studio-gallery in a part of Lagos not known for art appreciation.

A consistent advocate of government’s support for art, Archie-Abia, again, stresses the need for a law that will stop importation of foreign art work into Nigeria. He argues that “it’s unacceptable for people, including some public office holders to be importing works of foreign artists into Nigeria; government should ban such importation.” He notes that some of the big hotels and houses in choice residential areas are embellished with works of foreign artists

From being a bone-collage artist, for over a decade, Archie-Abia’s art is a victim of constant drop in power from the national grid. He says “I was forced to reduce the number of bone-collage I used to produce because of lack of electricity. I am now into other mixed media works, but still trying to retain my identity of blending aesthetics and spirituality of art.”

Archie-Abia is a full time studio artist of nearly two decades of practice,  with many solo art exhibitions and nearly ten group art exhibitions.

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