By Tajudeen Sowole
A fragrance of art gallery as resource space, across disciplines, is in the air at Biodunomolayo Gallery where creativity is being used as a pedestal in creating responsible leadership. Across ages, the gallery engages participants in intellectualising and dissecting of art contents as a an extension of sappropriating creativity beyond the regular space.
The gallery, for the past one decade, has been articulating its mission via a platform known as Young @ Art. Being a consistent space that has a firm root in Nigeria's vocabulary of non-formal creative activities such as workshops and mentorships, Young @ Art, led by artist and gallery owner needs little or no introduction. But the insurgence of interest, which is also generating expansion of the space into diverse disciplines should be of interest to keen observers.
"Beyond mentorship in art, we are coaching young adults and children on the need to start seeing leadership as a responsibility," Omolayo enthuses during a chat with his guest inside the gallery. "Leadership is responsibility, not reliability." He states that Young @ Art has gone beyond just teaching art, but adding the disciplines of statistics and mathematics "in creating art to ensure that a child has a total development." He argues that when a child is developed in creativity, "solving problems as an adult in leadership position is easier."
The volume of activities going inside Biodunomolayo Gallery, a top floor facility at City Mall, Onikan, Lagos, during a visit, clearly suggest an expansion of the mentorship programmes of the Omolayo-led group. And when he discloses that "Young @ Art is currently running through out the year," he makes one shifts to the edge of a seat. For anyone who has been tracking the project since inception, Omolayo's statement generates curiousity. It started as a seasonal programes scheduled for long school holiday period, a calendar that coincides with summer period of the northern hemisphere. And for quite a long period since incepetion, Young @ Art has sustained the programming.
Now redesigned to run through out the year - including academic holiday periods - quite a number of other disciplines have been included. One of such he says is consulting for secondary schools in effective management of excursions. "Rather than just take pupils and students to visit the museums, we expose them to contemporary art here where they meet artists at work and experience the fun of creating art." Extending the gallery's service in creativity resource to secondary schools, he says, is inspired by a British Council, Lagos experience last year. Through the mentorship and skill acquisition programmes of Biodunomolayo Gallery, the British Council had, last year, engaged select secondary schools across Nigeria in art workshop for art teachers.
As positive and progreesional the expansion of the gallery's mentorship workshops are, there comes challenges of keeping pace with the growh. For example, how does the gallery manage its facililitators who are engaged on part time? "We now have facilitators that are staff; under our full employment," Omolayo discloses. In fact, the facilitators "are trained in gallery management, handling of kids." The facilitators, who are "ten in number, are also trained to train other professionals."
Participants in different segments of Young @ Art include children, young adults as well as professionals from non-art fields who seek to acquire skills in the creative and culture sectors. Apart from the programmes for children and young adults, the other segment include Sweet Art for women as well as supportive birthday event in art exhibition for patrons.
As the new school session drew near, the gallery organised art exhibition that showed the works of children participants produced during the long holiday period.
In the previous years, Young at Art had featured celebrities that inspired the young participants. Among such note able names are Duke Asidere, a professional artist, Engr. Yemisi Shyllon, Chief Rasheed Gbadamosi and Funke Akindele a.k.a Jenifa who mentored the children.