By BENJAMIN NJOKU
Another history was made last Friday, when renowned female artist and writer, Sesu Tilley-Gyado emerged the overall winner of this year edition of the National Art Competition, annually organised by the African Artists’ Foundation(AAF) in collaboration with the Nigerian Breweries Plc.
Sesu defeated eleven other finalists to clinch the star prize. She smiled home with the sum of N2 million, while the Halima Abubakar and Zemaya Okediji who came second went home with the sum of N1 million. Victoria Samuel Udondian who came third was equally rewarded with the sum of N1 million.
Other finalists were Karimah Ashadu, Alayande Ayanwale, Chidinma Chinke, Chioma Mary Edoga, Chuka Ejorh and Olamide Udo-Udoma, Taiye Idahor, Felicia Tochukwu Okpara, Erasmus Onyishi and Olanrewaju Tejuoso.
Announcing the winners last Friday night, at a glamorous exhibition of the works of the finalists held at Eko Hotel and Suites, Victoria Island, the organisers explained that the twelve finalists were chosen to explore the interpretation of the theme of “Identity” through a variety of mixed media and installation practices.
Explaining further, the organisers added that while previous competitions engaged a medium-specific approach to selection criteria, they decided this year to embrace a hybridity of artistic disciplines and forms, one that places primary focus on the conceptual underpinnings of their artistic projects. “ After hundreds of entries were received, twelve finalists were chosen to take part in an artist retreat, where workshops by leading arts professionals allow finalists the opportunity to flesh out the conceptual threads of their proposals,” AAF disclosed.
Meanwhile, at the exhibition hall of Eko hotel and Suites, it was a colourful display of varied works of installations, sculptures and paintings. Sesu Tilley-Gyado’s winning works on display which focused on identity in the information age through references to telecommunications, billboards and virtual connectivity were exceptional, just as Halima Abubakar/Zemaye Okediji’s mixed-media compositions which adopted a metaphorical approach to the theme of the competition by referencing concepts such as labyrinths, death, food and patterns to describe the complexity of identity outstanding.
In his remark, the Managing Director of Nigerian Breweries Plc, Mr Nicolaas Vervelde reiterated the commitment of Nigerian Breweries Plc to championing causes that would continually add value to the Nigerian society. “The sponsorship of national Art competition is, thus, a demonstration of our commitment to encouraging and promoting the development of the arts and artists in the country,” he stated.
Inaugurated in 2007, the National Art Competition is an annual programme that aims at promoting the conceptual development of contemporary art of the country. In the past six years, the programme has cemented itself as a leading platform for the development of the next generation of contemporary artists in Nigeria.