|Sam Ebohon, President, Guild of Professional Fine Artists of Nigeria (GFA).
In its 10th anniversary celebration, Guild of Professional Fine Artists of Nigeria (GFA), has announced events that run through the last quarter of the year. The guild also revisited some of the controversial public space art in Lagos State and and commended the governor, despite its observation on quality of the works.
President of GFA, Sam Ebohon who announced the events stated that the GFA as a professional body of studio artists has in its ten years of formal existence achieved the purpose of founding the organization. "As an association that has been in existence for ten years, we have been able to execute all of our functions and achieve the aims and objective of which the association was established," the fourth president who was elected early this year boasted. "The core of our mission is to promote the appreciation of fine art in Nigeria and in addition to establish ethical standard and rules that will encourage and enhance proper practice of the profession, which we hope will add to the promotion and preservation of our cultural heritage".
As part of the 10th year anniversary celebration, the guild, he disclosed, is organising various activities like art workshops, seminars, salon and major art exhibition not just for only members but to the general community of artists. The events, according to Ebohon, start with 'Art Workshop & Demonstration from September 11- 13, 2018, holding at Ovie Brume Foundation, Victoria Island, Lagos. Interestingly, the venue of the anniversary event hosted GFA's first convention in 2008. Resource persons for the Workshop & Demonstration include Duke Asidere, Edosa Ogiugo, Sam Ovraiti and Alex Nwokolo.
"GFA is a group of professional studio artists who have come together to forge a common front in creating an enabling landscape for the practice, improvement, status and wellbeing of all fine artists in Nigeria", Ebohon explained. "Starting from September 11-13 with Workshop & Demonstration at Ovie Brume, the grand finale to end the activities of the 10th year anniversary is an award and Gala night which will recognize and celebrate all those who have supported us in the journey so far by giving of awards and certificates of excellence to Collectors, patron of arts, sponsors, affiliate bodies, trustees, and members alike". Dates for other events, he assured, will be announced soon.
Recalling the guild's growth in the past ten years, Ebohon shared experience of how members confronted many challenges. "The challenges we faced were many, some of which we are still facing today, such as
supports from the Federal Government, which has been minimal". He however recognized and commended the Lagos State Government for what he described as "focusing not only on culture in general but also on the fine artists who have been empowered through the public art projects embarked upon so far". Though Ebohon echoed concerns of most artists' in Lagos as regards the quality of some public space art done so far by the Lagos State Government in the last two years, he however insisted that there are still rooms for improvement. "As much as we criticize some of the completed works, which truly are below acceptable standards for public art, we cannot overlook the fact that this is a governor who has shown some love and respect for the artists". In fact, Ebohon emphasised that "no other governor in recent Nigerian history has approved such a strong policy on the art and culture sector as far as I know". He urged supports for the government by saying that "this needs to be encouraged and not discouraged as it covers one of GFA’s intrinsic aim". He hoped that "it can only get better from here".
Being the president of the guild so fortunate to be in office in the body's 10th anniversary year, Ebohon projected into the future. "Ten years from now my hope is that the GFA grows stronger". As part of the guild's future plan, he said, "we are working on having our own GFA museum of contemporary Nigerian art and gallery, which will house a befitting secretariat".
Despite being a professional body not affiliated to any government agency, GFA, according to Ebohon, will continue to maintain relationship with cpnsituted authority. "We will continue to strive for relevance, enough to maintain a relationship with government and liaise for policies that will impact our culture, art and all artists, positively, in general".