Thursday, 21 June 2012

Art Entrepreneurship Workshop… promoting economic empowerment in creative industry


By Tajudeen Sowole
 With periodical workshops by Omoba Yemisi Adedoyin Shyllon Art Foundation (OYASAF), artists are now empowered for economic engagements.
  ORGANISED by the Creative Arts Department, University of Lagos, Akoka, Lagos, and tagged Unilag Art Entrepreneurship Workshop, the closing ceremony of the second edition created a platform for renowned and upcoming artists as well as students to interact and share notes on how to harness artistic engagement as a source of economic empowerment. The initiative made its debut last year.
  From watercolour painting to crafts such as beading and ceramic, this year’s edition, which started in April through the second week of June 2012, produced some fascinating pieces as participants’ works on display at the new complex of the Creative Arts Dept brought out the combined skills of the artists and their facilitators.
   Shortly before awards were given to some outstanding participants, the founder of OYASAF, Prince Yemisi Shyllon disclosed that master printmaker, Dr. Bruce Onobrakpeya’s “revelation to me that Uli Beier’s art workshop, Mbari Mbayo changed his art, inspired and encouraged me to get involved in this workshop”. Shyllon argued that Nigeria should emulate Japan, the far-east country that has no mineral resources, but is the third largest economy in the world, “based on creativity and production.”
  Onobrakpeya, who was a special guest at the event, said he was glad that Dr. Peju Layiwola and Shyllon organised the workshop. He stated that “am not surprised because for 12 years, Layiwola participated in the annual Harmattan Workshop at Agbaro-Otor, Delta State.” According to the great artist, Shyllon “has set the pace in promoting art, as the workshop has brought the town and gown together.”
One of the facilitators, Brett Cook (speaking), Prince Yemisi Shyllon and Chief (Mrs) Olufunmilayo Shyllon during the closing ceremony of the 2nd Unilag Art Entrepreneurship Workshop… recently.
   Sessions for the workshop included jewelry (chain mail/wire knitting /sheet metal work/ bead stringing) as well as watercolour painting and an open session in ceramics.
  Facilitators included a resource person and African-American artist Brett Cook, who joined others such as Sam Ovraiti, Ibe Ananaba, Ato Arinze, and Ariyo Oguntimehin.
  Although, it is just two editions old, the workshop appeared to have won the attention of more people. For example, Ovraiti, who is one of the well known faces in art workshop, disclosed that “the Unilag gathering is one of the two art workshops I now hold so dear to my heart, which I must not miss every year.”
  Speaking on the gains of the workshop, Layiwola explained that it was basically about improving on whatever artists have acquired elsewhere. She noted that Arinze, for example, showed how ceramic materials could be sourced locally. Largely, materials for ceramic, which are imported, and very expensive, she reasoned, “had discouraged some artists from practice, thereby making them go into other professions as they were not able to cope with the challenges.”
  Layiwola also stated, “We found a much better use of copper wire in producing bead works.”
  For the visitor, Cook, “it’s all about interconnecting; the workshop has given me more wider scope in relating with other artists.”
  Cook had carried out numerous public projects in the U.S, the Caribbean, and Mexico. His prized collections can be found in the Smithsonian Institute’s National Portrait Gallery in Washington DC; Studio Museum of Harlem in New York and Harvard University. He is a recipient of the smARTpower residency in Nigeria funded by the US Department of State.
  As an extension of Cook’s project themed Sharing Culture, the artist left behind a mural at the Creative Art Department, which stands at over 12 feet in height and about six times that much in length.
  Awardees of the second Unilag Entrepreneurship Workshop and chosen for being the best in each of the sessions included Uche Ezebiro, for wireworks; Uhorha Splendour, watercolour; Temilola Marindoti, beads; Ojetunde Sherriff, ceramics.
  And for some of the participants who did not win any award, the experience was worth the time spent.  Olasunkanmi Akinsanmi disclosed that “before the workshop, I was like a blind artist. Now, I can see as I have acquired a lot in watercolour painting.” For Tayo Ola, a fashion designer, “this programme has turned my life around.” 
  At the maiden edition, last year, the workshop emphasised skills in repousse, watercolour, pastel painting, ceramics and printmaking, and wife of an American diplomat in Nigeria, Kathleen Stafford was among the facilitators.

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