Sunday 1 January 2017

Experience Nigeria Art of Resilient Patronage

By Tajudeen Sowole

Art competitions as crucial inputs that come with honours such as awards across various other areas of art patronage and promotion are no doubt the oil that lubricate art appreciation in the Lagos circuit. And when the specific art completion in focus is the  oldest in this part of the world, Experience Nigeria Art Show, nothing
Clara Aden’s Hopephobia won the star prize at Experience Nigeria 2016.
short of rich presentation comes as expectation.

 Interestingly, every edition, Experience Nigeria Art comes in modest texture, but richness in art contents and presentation. For the 2016 edition, artists, patrons and other professionals were honoured with African Art Awards, a spice of Experience Nigeria Show and art competition.

 Being among the high points
that wrapped up the year, the event, held at National Museum, Onikan Lagos, under the leadership Ayodele Olaopa confirmed its two and half decades consistence. Awardees included Art Teacher Of The Year 2016, Mr. Dotun Alabi of Federal College of Education (Technical; Sammy Olagbaju Award For Ssonsor Of The Year,  to Radial Circle Group; Bruce Onobrakpeya Award For Lifetime Achievement as post-humour to Olagbaju; and Gani Odutokun Award For Excellence In Art won by artist, Clara Aden for her work Hopephobia.

 With Refreshing Forward as theme of the competition segment of the event, Aden won the prize after short list of 100 entries, Olaopa disclosed. "About 50 artists were shortlisted from over 100 works of various media." The process included "exhibition after submissions were juried from online entries." The event has been giving participants categorised awards for winners via certificates, trophies and cash prizes, in the past editions.

 Olaopa explained that AARC's tribute to late master, Odutokun "in Award for Excellence is crucial to the event in honour of the late master."

 The event's focus the future, got a boost by creating an environment not bereft of creative young persons as kids of between 5-12 years old were said to have participated at Experience Nigeria Children's Creative Camp 2016. "As expected the children section included art and crafts activities organised to encourage children to broaden their creative skills."

 Interestingly too, Experience Nigeria Art is not restricted to fresh entrants. Every year, more participants from past editions always made entries and, sometimes, included in the short list. In fact, Aden, an artist with elaborate skills in drawing won the top prize of 2016 from the experience of being among the oldest participants.

 In a not too friendly corporate support for art environment, it is amazing that Experience Nigeria has lasted 25 years. Olaopa disclosed that the supports for the event was based on what he described as giving a great and unique contents for brands to expand their  awareness and enhance relationship with Nigeria's art community."

He boasted that in the past editions, "hundreds of Nigerian artists and other professionals have benefited from its programmes, including Tola Wewe - former commissioner for culture and tourism, Ondo State; and the present commissioner or Information and Strategy, Lagos State - Mr. Steve Ayorinde - wrote about this show in the ’90s while he was at the Guardian Newspapers." So far, Olaopa insisted that the aims and objectives of Experience Nigeria has been met. Among such goals are:  to celebrate and promote Nigerian Art, offer direct economic gains to emerging artists, promote optimism and confidence in a new and prosperous Nigeria despite recent challenges, and build networks, promote understanding and enhance cooperation between Artists and the general public.

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