By Chris Onuoha
When Elvira Salleras, President and founder of the ‘Literacy Integration and Formal Education (LIFE)’ organisation started a humanitarian journey of reaching out to the vulnerable in the society eleven years ago, little did she realise how huge the impact would be on the targets.
Today, many orphans and the less privileged in Nigeria are heaving sighs of relief through these interventions. Among these, is the Makoko community in Yaba, Lagos that has benefited prominently from the literacy intervention of the foundation.
Majorly, Salleras whose love for art and humanity inspired the project is using art exhibitions to facilitate these programmes, and one of such among others, is the recent art exhibition that featured 6 prominent Nigeria visual artists, Fidelis Odogwu, George Edozie, Alex Nwokolo, Gerry Nnubia, Francis Uduh and Abraham Uyovbisere held at Omenka Art Gallery in Ikoyi, Lagos with the theme, ‘Dear Nigeria, Dear Friends’.
The sole aim of this art fair which runs from November 27 to December 7, organised by the LIFE foundation and Alliance Francaise in collaboration with Omenka Gallery is to raise fund to facilitate the foundation’s literacy projects in Makoko, the economically disadvantaged community on the lagoon, beside Yaba, Lagos.
Going by the works of these 6 highly respected and well-travelled Nigerian visual artists, Sallera scored a point by attracting eminent citizens and art collectors to an exhibition of masterpuman in various media – sculpture, painting and mixed media. Individually, the most recent works of these artists are strong and offer a glimpse as well, a deeper understanding of the artist’s techniques and working methods.
Some of the works include metal relief works – Social Club, the Source, and Water Fiesta among others by Fidelis Odogwu; oil on canvas rendition, ‘Underwater and Urban Housing, by George Edozien; Tree of life, Balogun Market IV & V by Felix Nwokolo; mixed media on canvas,’Afro Jazz and Achiever’s Forum by Gerry Nnubia; fiber glass casts by Francis Uduh and oil on canvas paintings by Abraham Uyovbisere.
All the well-chosen masterpieces in a broad range of styles and media, according to the artists are their earnest contribution in support for the economically disadvantaged Makoko community.
Elvira Salleras in an interactive session revealed that for the past two years in the running, LIFE foundation has embarked on various life support and literary projects in Makoko community that include rebuilding of schools, facilitating 2 medical missions, organising seasonal parties, equipping a school library and distributing books, teaching aids and 1000 pairs of sandals to school children.
According to her, “This is a way of giving back to society and reaching out, especially to the indigents among us who ordinarily could not afford quality education.
Director, Alliance Francaise, Lagos, Charles Courdent also said, “Alliance Francaise together with French Institute in Nigeria are very proud and happy to support such project because “we believe creative arts – music, dance, fashion and visual arts – are ubiquitous in the Nigerian cultural universe. We identify with LIFE foundation’s effort for bringing hope to children and giving shining colours to a dark world.”