Saturday, 1 May 2021

How Nigerian Sculptors captured 'Public Art and Our City Scape'

Prince Yemisi Shyllon (middle), receiving his certificate of BoT, ScAN from Adeola Balogun, Programmes Coordinator; Olojo Kosoko, Chairman, SNA, Lagos' Mutiu Yusuf, Asst Gen Sec, SNA, Lagos Chapter; and Andrew Akinbodewa, Fin Sec, ScAN.


Sculptors Association of Nigeria (ScAN) had its inauguration of Board of Trustees on April 16, 2021 and National Conference (Apr. 21-22. The two events were conducted on dual platforms of Physical and virtual. The conference, which focused public space art made some recommendations in saving the creative industry's responsibility as regards the environment.

ScAN said the Inauguration of BoT had eight out of the nine-member board inaugurated. The board Chairman, His Imperial Majesty, Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi, Ojaja II, the Ooni of Ife; ScAN President, Oladapo Afolayan; and Secretary, Dr. Olusola Kukoyi were inaugurated physically at the royal palace of Ile-Ife. The Assistant Director of NGA, Osogbo, Mr. Alabi conducted the chairman’s inauguration while the Ooni conducted Inauguration of the president and secretary. 

Other board of trustees had their inauguration conducted by ScAN representatives at various locations. The BoT members included Omooba (Engr.) Yemisi Shyllon, at his Maryland, Lagos, residence; newly elected SNA Lagos state Chapter Chairman and his entire cabinet were also present; Dr. Bruce Onobrakpeya had his inauguration at his Oloje studio (Lagos); and that of Dr. Chief Mrs. Nike Davies Okundaye took place at the Nike Gallery, Lekki (Lagos). 

 Other inaugurations conducted were that of Prof. Tonie Okpe at Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, while Dr. Okay Ikenegbu  had his at NGA grounds (Enugu). For logistic reasons but with his consent, the inauguration of H.E. Arc. Obong Victor Attah had to be postponed to another date. 

Highlights of the inauguration was presentation of BoT Certificates and ScAN Medal of honour to the inductees. In his reaction, the founder of Yemisi Shyllon Museum,  Engr Shyllon observed that ScAN has a great amount of work to carry out in educating, enlightening and projecting the essence of sculptural forms through publication of online journals, exhibitions and conferences.. He therefore called for cooperation of all stakeholders in fulfillment of ScAN mandate.

During the Conference tagged 'Public Art and Our City Scape  held at the Obafemi Awolowo University and in full observance of Covid-19 safety protocols, 30 academic papers  were delivered physically and online. Participants were drawn from Zaria, Enugu, Uyo, Aba, Port-Harcourt, Abuja, Ijebu-Ode, Abeokuta and Lagos. Under the main theme “Public Art and Our City Scape,” papers presented covered areas like- Production, Cluster formations, Public Space, philosophy, Perception, Aesthetics, Education, National Identity, Standards and Standardization, Management and Advocacy.

The Vice Chancellor of Obafemi Awolowo University- Prof. Ogunmodede, Deputy Vice Chancellor (DVC) and Chairperson, Dean of Deans and Dean- Environmental Management- Prof. M.O Babalola were in attendance. The VC in his remark highlighted the values of art in the build environment. He offered OAU to sponsor the next Association’s project should ScAN consider OAU for bidding as venue. Other highlights of the conference were distribution of registered member’s certificate, book of Abstracts and participant’s certificate. Papers presented at the conference will form a body of articles for the Association journal which will debut in October 2021. A communique was also issued at the end of the conference.

A communique from ScAN: After thorough consideration of significant and cogent issues presented in various academic papers and robust discussions emanating from this conference, the Association issued the followings as communique. 

The Association was conscious of the fact that perhaps, the greatest contribution of Africans to world cultural heritage is in the field of sculpture. The Association is therefore poised and determined to preserve and promote the ethics and ethos of sculpture and its professional practice in Nigeria and beyond. Members at the conference were therefore unanimous in their resolve to advance and protect sculpture and its professional practice in Nigeria, in the areas of: Professionalism, Education, Advocacy and Standardization as enumerated bellow.

Going by the rate of destruction, defacement and abuse of public sculptures in Nigeria, it has become exigent for ScAN to create a directory of public sculptures in every zone of the nation. Many sculptures have been lost to arbitrary demolition by individuals and governmental agencies. Each zone will be mobilized to document all public sculptures within their zone. A committee on documentation will be put in place on zonal basis. Compendium of these sculptures shall be available to the public to create awareness and monitoring.

ScAN decry the spate of poor execution of sculptures in our public space due to incompetent craftsmanship arising from award of commission to non-sculptors and third parties. ScAN will create an advisory committee to advice government on all public sculpture commissions. Government at various levels shall be encouraged to create a park to accommodate all relocated sculptures instead of the present attitudes of outright destruction.

It is the view of the Association that some sculptors are complicit in destruction of public sculptures at the point of relocation due to weak pedestal bases. ScAN therefore advised and cautioned all sculptors working on public commissions to ensure durable pedestals to mount their work in anticipation of future relocation. ScAN advised sculptors working on all public commissions to take advantage of art clusters to engage other sculptors through professional collaborations.  Sculptures are intellectual properties of sculptors though in a joint ownership with the sponsors, hence they should be consulted and engaged in case of refurbishment, sale, transfer (of ownership) and relocation of their works.

ScAN regreted the impunity that led to the destruction of a portion of Artits’ Village, a cluster of visual artists, performing artistes and art bodies in Lagos. ScAN considered this retrogressive action is an affront on Nigerian creative industry more so when one of the cardinal objectives of the Vision 20:2020 was to encourage creation of business clusters3 with government providing enabling environment through provision of amenities and foster Public Private Partnership (PPP) engagement. 

 In order to preserve Nigeria’s artistic heritage and promote national identity, ScAN proposed that a percentage of total cost of public built environment and monuments in public space should be devoted to sculpture. ScAN shall push for a legislation towards this end. 


Fnally, due to the protracted delay and inactivity of ScAN consultants on the earlier scheduled exhibition tagged – “Now Sculpture”, the Association's Executive Committee has taken a decision to abdicate the exhibition and commence the process of a new show which will hold at a date to be announced soon. However, all payments towards participation remain valid and the exhibition will hold in same venue (National Museum, Onikan, Lagos) as ScAN’s approval and payment for the use of museum floor still subsists. Members and general public are advised to watch out for the new date.

 -Dr Kukoyi Ayodefi Olusola, Secretary. 




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