Friday, 4 May 2012

How art, design stimulate development

    
By Tajudeen Sowole
(First published,
Tuesday, February 02, 2010)           
ART and Design, it has been argued, are the pillars upon which a vibrant society rests.
  This submission came from a member of Nigerians In Diaspora Organisation (NIDO), Manitoba, Canada Chapter, Segun Olude who was the resource person at the seminar, Issues in Art and Design organized by Canada-based group, Indigo Ink Studios in collaboration with Department of Art and Industrial Design, Lagos State Polytechnic, (LASPOTECH), Ikorodu, Lagos.
  Held on January 26, 2010, Olude declared, “art and design are foundation of every vibrant society.”
  Olude, who was also in Nigeria last year at a similar gathering held at Adeniran Ogunsanya College of Education (ACOED), Lagos, spoke on how professionals in art and design could advance development of their immediate communities. 
  He made reference to “Save Our Seine River Environment” project designed to rescue the ecological degradation of the Seine River and its environs. According to him, the project benefited from his professional skill. Its master-plan, he revealed, was done by Indigo Ink with the employment of what he termed “Visual Communication,” a sub-theme of the seminar.
Visual representation of information, he stressed, is basically a purpose of communicating an intended message.
  He supported his argument with examples of tremendous impact art and design have had on monuments: images of the good, bad and ugly –past and contemporary.
  Under the topic, ‘Heroes, Legends, Villains and More’, he noted that most of the records that remain today are those of the victors, not the oppressed.
  “The heroes are portrayed as larger-than-life,” depicted in diverse medium such as murals, sculptures, architectures, paintings, gardens, parks, and others.”
  Taj Mahal mausoleum in India, was cited as a typical example of how art and design could be applied to promote heroism and enhance the status of a country.
  The culture edifice was built in 1653 by Shah Jahan, a Mughal Emperor in memory of his third wife, Mumtaz Mahal who died while giving birth to her 14th child. With over two million visitors yearly, Taj Mahal has become a central tourist attraction in the world. It also underscored the place of creativity in nation building.
Indeed, Olude preached “localising visual communication” as a crucial factor in treating the subject matter, while emphasizing the status of the seventeenth century structure, which combined Islamic, Persian and Indian architectures, as a confirmation of the importance of local content in the design of a particular structure.
  And from images such as the depiction of Pharaohs mowing the Nubians; Greek’s history of celebration of their goddess; charismatic former heavy weight boxer, Muhammad Ali standing over Sonny Liston – in medium such as painting, photography and pottery – Olude captured the issue of visual representation and challenged Nigerian artists, designers and visual communicators to research and present the nation’s heroes in artistic rendition.
  While noting that relativity might come in on the question of who qualifies to be a hero, visual communicators, he warned, “should record the real heroes of our society, not just politicians and socialites.”
  But in a country such as Nigeria (where monuments are usually funded by politicians in government) professionals in the business of visual communication hardly bother on the issue of real heroes.
  At some gatherings where public monuments were discussed in the past, artists were concerned more about aesthetics and funding. The National Gallery of Art (NGA), under the embattled Director General, Joe Musa hinted at a gathering in Lagos two years ago that a bill on public monuments, sponsored by NGA was before the National Assembly.
  While artists were curious to know the content of the bill, Musa said, the proposed document was aimed at ensuring that between 10 to 20 percent budgeting for public monument goes into visual contents such as sculpture and design.
  However, with the different input of NIDO from across America and Europe, there is hope for professionals, Olude assured, but stressed that the emphasis should be on “Nigerian flavour,” or local content.
  Such hope, he declared, had begun to manifest in the new face of parks in Lagos landscape. He also commended the contribution of the local artists to “few of the pubic sculptural pieces I have seen.”
  Other issues he talked about were: Figure-Ground Relationship; Similarity Symbol and Symbolism; Balancing Talent with Passion; and Symmetry.
Head of the Department, LASPOTECH, Akeem Balogun traced the root of the seminar to erudition Olude exhibited at ACOED outing last year. In addition to the lecture delivered there, several books on art and designs, it was learnt, were given to the school.
On bending the line between commercialisation and service to the community, Olude noted that most professionals “forget that our gifts and talents are not only to make a living but to change the community in which we live for the better,” therefore, the creative minds, he insisted, must also be “a coach, mentor, teacher, tutor, or help someone else to rise.”
  On the role of art and design over the issues of environment at the global front, he argued, that the Western culture of individualism and so-called freedom of expression are not helping situation, generally. This, he noted, offers a lot of challenge to artists and designers to apply their skills in educating people on the collective consequence of certain habits.
“For example, when we drive vehicles that run on one litre of petrol per kilometre, we hurt not just the planet, but everyone else; a pack of cigarette a day causes problems for the smoker and hurts those around them, especially children – asthma is on the rise, heart disease is on the increase and liver disease too!”
  He therefore asked: “why are we still being told it is all about the individual?” According to Olude, artists and designers possess the required skill “that can inform the public of issues that affect humanity, so that people can make smart decisions.”
  Such challenges, he argued, include making moderate choice in designing better packaging that uses less material as a measure in conservation. For example, “Planned obsolescence” in product designs, he argued, should be reviewed because “it is anti-human.”
Another highlight of the event was an art exhibition, Evolving Minds, which featured works of final year and graduating students of the school.
The essence of the Diaspora movement, Olude, who is currently on the board of the Manitoba, Canada Chapter of NIDO, explained, is to help develop “our immediate community back home.”
  Born and raised in Lagos, Olude had his tertiary education at Yaba College of Technology, Yaba, Lagos before going to Canada to study at the University of Manitoba. Since then, he has been visiting Nigeria every year to help rural communities with their community development goals.
ART and Design, it has been argued, are the pillars upon which a vibrant society rests.
  This submission came from a member of Nigerians In Diaspora Organisation (NIDO), Manitoba, Canada Chapter, Segun Olude who was the resource person at the seminar, Issues in Art and Design organized by Canada-based group, Indigo Ink Studios in collaboration with Department of Art and Industrial Design, Lagos State Polytechnic, (LASPOTECH), Ikorodu, Lagos.
  Held on January 26, 2010, Olude declared, “art and design are foundation of every vibrant society.”
  Olude, who was also in Nigeria last year at a similar gathering held at Adeniran Ogunsanya College of Education (ACOED), Lagos, spoke on how professionals in art and design could advance development of their immediate communities. 
  He made reference to “Save Our Seine River Environment” project designed to rescue the ecological degradation of the Seine River and its environs. According to him, the project benefited from his professional skill. Its master-plan, he revealed, was done by Indigo Ink with the employment of what he termed “Visual Communication,” a sub-theme of the seminar.
Visual representation of information, he stressed, is basically a purpose of communicating an intended message.
  He supported his argument with examples of tremendous impact art and design have had on monuments: images of the good, bad and ugly –past and contemporary.
  Under the topic, ‘Heroes, Legends, Villains and More’, he noted that most of the records that remain today are those of the victors, not the oppressed.
  “The heroes are portrayed as larger-than-life,” depicted in diverse medium such as murals, sculptures, architectures, paintings, gardens, parks, and others.”
  Taj Mahal mausoleum in India, was cited as a typical example of how art and design could be applied to promote heroism and enhance the status of a country.
  The culture edifice was built in 1653 by Shah Jahan, a Mughal Emperor in memory of his third wife, Mumtaz Mahal who died while giving birth to her 14th child. With over two million visitors yearly, Taj Mahal has become a central tourist attraction in the world. It also underscored the place of creativity in nation building.
Indeed, Olude preached “localising visual communication” as a crucial factor in treating the subject matter, while emphasizing the status of the seventeenth century structure, which combined Islamic, Persian and Indian architectures, as a confirmation of the importance of local content in the design of a particular structure.
  And from images such as the depiction of Pharaohs mowing the Nubians; Greek’s history of celebration of their goddess; charismatic former heavy weight boxer, Muhammad Ali standing over Sonny Liston – in medium such as painting, photography and pottery – Olude captured the issue of visual representation and challenged Nigerian artists, designers and visual communicators to research and present the nation’s heroes in artistic rendition.
  While noting that relativity might come in on the question of who qualifies to be a hero, visual communicators, he warned, “should record the real heroes of our society, not just politicians and socialites.”
  But in a country such as Nigeria (where monuments are usually funded by politicians in government) professionals in the business of visual communication hardly bother on the issue of real heroes.
  At some gatherings where public monuments were discussed in the past, artists were concerned more about aesthetics and funding. The National Gallery of Art (NGA), under the embattled Director General, Joe Musa hinted at a gathering in Lagos two years ago that a bill on public monuments, sponsored by NGA was before the National Assembly.
  While artists were curious to know the content of the bill, Musa said, the proposed document was aimed at ensuring that between 10 to 20 percent budgeting for public monument goes into visual contents such as sculpture and design.
  However, with the different input of NIDO from across America and Europe, there is hope for professionals, Olude assured, but stressed that the emphasis should be on “Nigerian flavour,” or local content.
  Such hope, he declared, had begun to manifest in the new face of parks in Lagos landscape. He also commended the contribution of the local artists to “few of the pubic sculptural pieces I have seen.”
  Other issues he talked about were: Figure-Ground Relationship; Similarity Symbol and Symbolism; Balancing Talent with Passion; and Symmetry.
Head of the Department, LASPOTECH, Akeem Balogun traced the root of the seminar to erudition Olude exhibited at ACOED outing last year. In addition to the lecture delivered there, several books on art and designs, it was learnt, were given to the school.
On bending the line between commercialisation and service to the community, Olude noted that most professionals “forget that our gifts and talents are not only to make a living but to change the community in which we live for the better,” therefore, the creative minds, he insisted, must also be “a coach, mentor, teacher, tutor, or help someone else to rise.”
  On the role of art and design over the issues of environment at the global front, he argued, that the Western culture of individualism and so-called freedom of expression are not helping situation, generally. This, he noted, offers a lot of challenge to artists and designers to apply their skills in educating people on the collective consequence of certain habits.
“For example, when we drive vehicles that run on one litre of petrol per kilometre, we hurt not just the planet, but everyone else; a pack of cigarette a day causes problems for the smoker and hurts those around them, especially children – asthma is on the rise, heart disease is on the increase and liver disease too!”
  He therefore asked: “why are we still being told it is all about the individual?” According to Olude, artists and designers possess the required skill “that can inform the public of issues that affect humanity, so that people can make smart decisions.”
  Such challenges, he argued, include making moderate choice in designing better packaging that uses less material as a measure in conservation. For example, “Planned obsolescence” in product designs, he argued, should be reviewed because “it is anti-human.”
Another highlight of the event was an art exhibition, Evolving Minds, which featured works of final year and graduating students of the school.
The essence of the Diaspora movement, Olude, who is currently on the board of the Manitoba, Canada Chapter of NIDO, explained, is to help develop “our immediate community back home.”
  Born and raised in Lagos, Olude had his tertiary education at Yaba College of Technology, Yaba, Lagos before going to Canada to study at the University of Manitoba. Since then, he has been visiting Nigeria every year to help rural communities with their community development goals.

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