Friday, 17 February 2012

People, as subject of engagement at Harmattan workshop


 By Tajudeen Sowole
 WHEN artists gather at the 14th Harmattan Workshop, which runs from February 27 to March 12, 2012 at Agbarha Otor, Delta State, the challenge of depicting people, from an artistic impression context will be put in perspective. The Bruce Onobrakpeya Foundation (BOF) manages the yearly outing.
  Although, participating artists would not be compelled to work under any rigid thematic guide, the workshop this year, according to the founder, Dr. Bruce Onobrakpeya, is going to explore People as theme.
Participants at last year's Harmattan Retreat

  “From the art perspective, we are looking at how an artist, for example, does a portrait of people we never met; notable characters from mythology, folklore, etc. So, we are looking at exploring this challenge.”
  Irrespective of the thoughts of participants, within and outside the theme, the workshop, he stressed, “remains an outlet for experimentation, including applying virtually all media, techniques and styles — new and old.”
  The yearly gathering of artists, BOF stated, would feature Painting, Water Colour, Mixed Media, Textiles, Photography, Wood Carving, Stone Carving, Printmaking, Beads and Jewellery, Ceramics, and a few other courses that available facilities can accommodate.
  The director, painter Sam Ovraiti assured that the workshop, as usual “will help discover new and exciting ways of expressions.” And it’s not just about working, but assessment too, as the works produced are going to be critiqued. Ovraiti explained that “there will be a session set aside for critiquing, which will involve an expert who may not be a participating individual or a group within a particular department.” 
  The workshop, he added, would not leave out the collectors as the artists have the opportunity of selling their works, almost immediately. The director said this session of the yearly art gathering “will be an Open Day, when collectors will meet the participants in a trade fair atmosphere. Bulk sales of pieces of artworks created within the present or previous edition will be encouraged as a way of raising funds for the workshop.
 There appears to be an improvement on the sessions for the 2012 as Ovraiti assured that unlike last year, the 14th edition will have two sessions, with the facilitators spread across the departments.
 Among the first session are: Painting, Drawing and mixed media by Olusegun Adejumo and Abraham Abraham Uyovbisere; pottery, ceramics by Ato Arinze and Emmanuel Mordi; Cement sculpture, Philip Nzekwe; textile Ankara by Ademola Williams, David Osevwe and Mrs Uruemu; printmaking, Juliet Ezenwa Maja-Pearce; metal, Muraina Akeem.
 Listed in the second session as facilitators are Olu Ajayi, Stella Awoh, Godwin Onobrakpeya, Omoligho Udenta, Nelson Edwor, Adeola Balogun, Richardson Ovbiebo, Peju Layiwola, Bada Jacob Babasola, Akpojofor Patrick and Otse Omrigwe.
  Divided into two sessions, the workshop is scheduled to commence on February 19 and run till March 3, 2012 (first segment) while the second session will run between March 4 and 17, 2012.
 Outstanding personalities including academics and scholars have been penciled down to give talks on various aspects of the visual arts during seminars that will feature throughout the workshop duration.
  There will also be film shows on masters and their works and participants will have the opportunity to meet colleagues from within and outside the country.
  Participants will be provided with basic materials needed but they are advised to come with their materials to augment what will be provided.
  Accommodation and feeding would be provided to all participants as well. “You are welcome to participate in this workshop, which has become the longest running forum of informal education for visual artists of all backgrounds in Nigeria.  
 “Institutional participation will attract N35,000 per participant. This amount covers materials, accommodation and feeding. Other categories of participants are as follows: practising artists, N25,000; students, N15,000,” the organisers announce.
  This year, the workshop will feature the August retreat for practising artists only. This also will be on for two weeks. Details are to be provided later in the year.
  Reviewing last year’s edition, Onobrakpeya underscored new achievements that were recorded.
  “For once, the myth that surrounds my personal participation was put to rest,” he noted, adding, “it ran its course successfully,” while commending its management under Ovraiti, noting that the success of the workshop, has proven that “he rightly deserved the position.”
  Ovraiti was appointed last year as a director, becoming the first to be so appointed since inception of the project over 10 years ago.
  Onobrakpeya stressed that the workshop, in its 14th edition is fulfilling its promise as an agent of development in the visual arts, even beyond the shores of Nigeria. 
  Meanwhile, the celebration of his 80th birthday, earlier announced to start with the 14 th Harmattan workshop, may not be necessary. The veteran printmaker stated that whatever celebration, being planned to honour him “is best done after the workshop so that we do not distract attention from tthe workshop.”
 And since the birthday celebration will coincide with the Harmattan Retreat in August, Onobrakpeya insists, “the two events will be properly articulated.”

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