By Japhet Alakam
Femi Art Warehouse an art promoting outfit in its efforts geared towards taking Arts to the next level during the last Easter holidays organised an art exhibition tagged; Easter Artfest. The four day programme with the theme: Promoting African Art and Cultural Heritage kicked off on 2nd of April and ended on the 5th at Muri Okunola Park in Victoria Island.
The Artfest was the first art show to be hosted by the park since it was opened by the Lagos State government. It featured symposium, workshop, Art and Craft exhibition, Textile and cultural display that witnessed lots of performances by youths.
About eight exhibitors displayed their artworks. They include; My Nest Shop, JT Angies Emporium Ltd, Femi Art Warehouse, Art Barn, Tribes Art, for galleries, while Woodin International led the crop of art outfits that flooded the park with beautifully designed textiles that were purely African woven.
Works displayed in most of the stands include; paintings on canvas, sculptures in wood, mixed media pieces, art installations, metal works, photograph designs, a variety of decorative artefacts, textile designs in a variety of media and styles representing a cross section of Nigerian and non Nigerian works by some known artists. Among them were works by Joseph Ezeh, Tolu Aliki, Godwin Adesoye, Kayode Lawal, Kolawole Olayiga among others.
In a chat with the organiser on why he embarked on the show, the avid art promoter and one whose passion and commitment at not only celebrating and showcasing African arts, but also to promoting it in every way and every means possible, Femi Coker, stated that â€œthe concert is about bringing arts and the acquisition of art works out for people to appreciate in an open place because a lot of people have this misconception that art is for the elites. But we want to let such people know that art is enjoyed and appreciated by a wide variety of people.â€
Continuing, Femi, who claims to have worked with some of the biggest art promoters and art icons in the world like owners ofÂ Goge Africa andÂ Nike Art CenterÂ explained that the various platforms gave him the opportunity to see the world and understand the value, the aesthetics and the beauty of not only African Art, but also its cultural origin.
â€œWhat I am doing right now is to showcase a bit, like an iceberg of the potential enormity and the greatness of our values. The Easter Artfest is designed to encourage people to come out doors during the Easter break to enjoy arts in an atmosphere of picnic and serenity of the park because the park is not only meant for people to come and relax and enjoy the facilities,Â but also for us as art promoters to use the facility to showcase and promote art to a wider audience and general public as a whole.â€ he said.
In partnership with over ten professional bodies like AGAN, SNA, AAF, African Design Expo and My Next Club as well as some corporate organisations, Artfest, Femi promises,Â is going to be a yearly event.
He also disclosed that as part of efforts at encouraging and promoting arts in Lagos State, the State Government through the Ministry of Environment gave the venue facility free for the whole duration of the festival. This gesture, Femi admitted, is a major stimulant in promoting arts in the State and therefore called on other stakeholders to emulate the State Governmentâ€™s gesture by encouraging art promoters, artists and culture workersÂ and other people working in arts profession.
Richmond Ogolo ,AGAN Vice President and one of the participants at the show said â€œI am lending whatever support I can because the coordinator of the show is one of our members (AGAN). WeÂ try to motivate and encourage our members to have shows like this, especially when it is going to educate the public and is meant for social consciousness.â€ Continuing he added that â€œyou know we canâ€™t pay lip service to arts and culture because it is a trillion dollar industry, apart from the fact that it says much about our people. Any country that does not promote its arts and culture is not going anywhere because that is the root of any development. Both infra structural development., industrial awareness- everything is rooted in arts design so with shows like this we encourage people who are not conversant with arts and culture to come and have a taste of it.â€
Tribes Art director and one of the participants Rodney Asikhia in his own comment said that the show is an important way of promoting arts and a venue for people to relax. DescribingÂ the works showcased as nature at its best, he further described the fiesta as an educative and entertaining event for people to relax during the Easter holiday.
For Ismaila Uthman, the CEO of Woodin International who came all the way from Abidjan ,Cote de Ivoire â€œeverything here is African, Woodin is promoting Africa. The artists are purely African Artist trying to promote the images and values of Africa.
When you look at the design, it always portrays the beauty of Africa, telling us that we have rich cultural values.â€