… still promoting young and professional artists
By Chris Onuoha
In what started as a serene workspace for discerning businessmen and tourist center for art views, TYworkspace in Yaba, Lagos, an emerging facility center for corporate entity has gradually turned into a bubbling art exhibiting place.
Making a right turn from the University of Lagos junction via Herbert Macaulay way, situated the spacious and luxurious space in Ibikunle Street, off Unilag road that houses the center. On the outside, little is left to imagine but right inside the premises, daring artworks dotting the walls will invite a feel of museum-like aura in the like of modern gallery.
TYworkspace is a modern business center with facilities ranging from conferencing and board meeting rooms, internet space to spaciously partitioned walls for art displays among other things. When Toyin Arowolo, founder and the Chief Executive Officer, TYworkspace decided to create a multifaceted space to ease out stress that businessmen in Lagos, especially within Yaba axis pass through to meet up with business demand of the day, little did she know that accommodating art pieces will eventually endear more patronage to the place than the original intention.
At the inception last year December 2017, prominent professional artists in the like of Dr. Kunle Adeyemi, Dean, School of Art, Design and Printing, Yaba College of Technology; Aladegbongbo , another art teacher at the afore mentioned institution alongside other professionals based in Lagos opened the place with exciting works that attracted pull of collectors and art enthusiast. Hence then, it has turned to be a hub of business for many with interest to curb traffic situation in the city and erratic power outage that disrupts normal businesses.
Last weekend witnessed yet another convergence of art curators, collectors and admirers as the place hosted about 8 emerging student artists in its second art exhibition tagged, “New generation, New Talent.” The exhibiting artists comprised Agbeleye Adesola; Joshua Olaseni; Afolabi Afeez; Kazeem Mumin; Abogunde Aina; Onyekachi Christian; Osuya Alvin and Ogbeyemi Oladele all students from Yaba College of Technology, University of Lagos and Federal College of Education, Akoka, in Lagos.
Presenting four works each that was rendered in mostly pastel, water colour and charcoal on paper with few oil on canvas and metal sculptural pieces, the artists drawn from the pull of many entries showcased the very best they can offer at that moment. Although, there is no best in any artwork as every artwork is a progressive project, but the body of works on display depicts an in-depth fine works made out progressive efforts from class works and thoughtful concepts.
Going through the body of works on display, one thing that played prominent was individual expression and experimentation with materials. Some of the works in various sizes has strong message about the ills of the society, environmental awareness, nature and landscape drawings. A work titled, “Eve” by Joshua Olaseni talks about evolution and civilisation.
A female figure adorned with ornaments and tattoos on her skin tells the story of evolutionary trend coming from the original biblical Eve as seen in today’s evolving fashion trend. According to him, the message is to warn the youths about the danger of harmful practice called fashion trend. Works by other artists in their own rights carries different messages.
Speaking with Toyin Arowolo, CEO, TYworkspace, on the outcome of the exhibition, she stressed, “It has been an interesting journey so far; actually, we have made up our mind to put it twice a year. The first exhibition we had recorded an unexpected response. We had more than we expected and that encouraged us to do more.
We decided to also showcase students to diversify the creative space. We called in students from within who always had budding talents to come and showcase their talents. Looking at the quality of artworks exhibited here today, you can see it’s quite amazing. This is also giving us insight on what to expect in the next exhibition giving that the response is quite encouraging.
“In our next exhibition, we intend to showcase female artists because obviously, ladies in the industry are very strong and doing us proud. Beyond inviting student artists, we are also encouraging creative artist who have not had formal art training in school or about to get admission to study art to come around and showcase their budding talents.
TYworkspace is about giving visual artist a voice and space to grow and be seen. For now, it might seem we are working with artists within the vicinity, maybe because we are new but our vision is to crate space for artist around Nigeria to use the space as a special exhibition hub with other facilities,” she added.
Speaking further, she said, “This exhibition will run till June 29. At the end, the best work will be selected by a special guest curator from South Africa. The lucky artists will be rewarded with offer to display all his works in this place for 6 months. Beside this, the artists will be given an opportunity to tour other space and participate in other exhibitions thereby giving them an exposure.”
Mrs. Arowolo who sees art as a money spinner appeals to government to look inward and encourage artists in the country. “Art is known as a money spinner which will generate huge income to the country and we see it as an avenue to contribute our quota towards developing the sector in the country. Art can be developed to tourism to the country.
“Government has a big role to play to encourage these talents. The youths are not really lazy as the notion goes. They need to be encouraged with work tools, infrastructures and moral supports. Most schools in the country lack art teachers or qualified ones, so to say. They need supports to grow with access to materials, good works studio and enabling environment to progress,” she added
She also disclosed intentions to extend such space across the country where artists and businessmen can have a common place of meet.
For Tony Badmus, the Project Manager, TYworkspace, “It’s a success story so far from inception. With the pool of art lovers that visits this place including businessmen and corporate entities, TYworkspace is living up to its billings. We hope to spread our horizon to reach out to more people that has not known this place.”
Dr. Adenle, Lecturer at University of Lagos Creative Art Department says, “It is a good outing especially coming from students artists. TYworkspace is doing much for the young talents trying to harness and encourage them to be more effective in their career pursuit and the society at large.
Often times, big galleries would not encourage these young talents. These students will remember tomorrow, not for the artworks sold or unsold but the fact that their works are exposed to the public. They will be encouraged to grow from these and know how to present their works for subsequent public views.”