Monday 31 December 2012

Breaking News: One Week Postponement Of OYASAF Lecture Series II

Due to unforeseen circumstances, we regret to postpone the OYASAF Lecture Series II by one week, to January 26, 2013 from the earlier announced January 19, 2013.

While we apologize for this postponement, we wish to point out that all other details about the lecture remain as they were, as follows:

New date: Saturday  January 26, 2013.

Venue: OYASAF conference center, Okupe Estate, Maryland, Ikeja, Lagos.

Time: 10:30am prompt.

Thursday 27 December 2012

Lamidi Fakeye: book on career, work and untold story of life experience out

Cover of Conversations with Lamidi Fakeye

Co- authored by Prince Yemisi Shyllon and Dr Ohioma Pogoson, the book titled Conversations with Lamidi Fakeye is a 172 pages coffee table-size and is currently in distribution by Quintessence Gallery, Falomo Shopping Center in Ikoyi, Lagos. 

It contains interview with the late iconic wood carver LAMIDI FAKEYE. With a hard cover and high quality color prints, the book features photographic images of some 48 artworks of the artist in the OYASAF collection.

OYASAF Lecture Series II opens 2013

OYASAF, in collaboration with WOTASIDE Art Studios holds the second lecture series titled CONTEMPORARY ART IN NIGERIA: CONTEXTUAL NAVIGATION THROUGH THE WEB OF HISTORY”  to be delivered by Dr. Kunle Filani MFA, PhD on January 19, 2013 at OYASAF conference center, Okupe Estate, Maryland, Ikeja, Lagos. Time is 10:30am prompt.

Abstract from Lecture

The dynamics of change in the 20th century Africa, considerably transformed art forms that are typical of the earlier artistic traditions found in the various creative cultures that constitute the present day Nigeria. Within this paradigm shift however, is located the tensile strings of continuities that unify the past with the present; thereby justifying the maxim that culture is a continuum.

Despite the staggered beginnings of Contemporary Art Historical Studies in Africa, a more systematic classification and articulation of formal and contextual genres seems to be emerging. For the artist, form is the outward expression of nuanced experience. It is therefore plausible to examine contemporary art in Nigeria on a historical construct that is premised on contextual narrative.

Dr. Kunle Filani

(Curriculum Vitae)

Dr. Kunle Filani hails from Ikole-Ekiti. He attended the University of Ife, (now Obafemi Awolowo University) where be obtained a 2nd Class-Upper degree in Fine Arts.

He ran his Master of Fine Arts degree (MFA) between 1982 and 1984 at the University of Benin, Benin City. He was supervised by Professor Solomn Wangboje and Prof. Clarry Nelson-Cole in Printmaking, and taught the rudiments of criticism by Prof. Doris Rogers. He obtained a post- graduate Diploma in Education from the University of Lagos in 1995 and bagged his doctorate in Visual Arts History from the University of Ibadan under the supervision of Prof. Cornelius Adepegba.

Filani started teaching in the tertiary institution since 1985. He was at the Adeyemi College of Education, Ondo-then a campus under the University of Ife (1985-1992), Federal College of Education (Technical), Akoka, Lagos (1992-?), Federal College of Education Osiele, Abeokuta (2004-2012) as Provost, and Chief Executive. He is an adjunct lecturer at the Institute of African Studies, University Ibadan since 2009, and currently on Sabbatical appointment in the same University.

Kunle Filani reached the peak of his career as a lecturer in the College of Education system when he became a Chief lecturer in 1995. He also served in many administrative and academic capacities such as Head of Department, Dean, Deputy Provost and the ultimate-Provost. He was once the Chairman of Federal Committee of Provosts.

Filani’s landmark contributions to art can be located in his research into art materials and scholarship. He innovated the use of “Petro-polystyrene” for printmaking, painting and sculpture. His insightful and numerous publications can be found in local and international journals and books. He has remarkably influenced a lot of students and colleagues with his pragmatic approach to teaching. As a pioneering member of the Ona movement, Filani has consistently promulgated the art genre and ensured its place in contemporary history. He initiated the “Best of Ife” exhibition series and quite pro-active in supporting Governmental and Non-Governmental art institutions.

He is the president of Culture and Creative Arts Forum (CCAF) since inception in 2001 and holds the membership of numerous local and international art organizations. He is a fellow of society of Nigerian Artists (SNA) and Honorary Fellow of the Pan-Africa Circle of Artists (PACA) among others.

We look forward to your honoring us with your invaluable presence and participation at the lecture.

Signed: Prince (Engr) Yemisi Adedoyin Shyllon


Omooba Yemisi Adedoyin Shyllon Art Foundation


 Olu Amoda                                   Emmanuel Adigwe

Phone: 08122676902                    Phone: 08028322578

Friday 21 December 2012

How Obi, Ofala anniversaries thickened cultural cloud in Onitsha

Aside the 10th year anniversary of Ofala Festival held on October 5, in Onitsha, Southeast Nigeria, the people’s passion and cultural energy lifted the festival beyond expectation.   

The reason for the uncommon elation of the people was understandably of a double celebration: the monarch, Obi of Onitsha, Igwe Alfred Nna Emeka Achebe also celebrated his 10th year anniversary on the throne.
Obi of Onitsha, Igwe Alfred Nna Emeka Achebe dancing with his chiefs during the Ofala Festival and the monarch's 10th coronation anniversary.
The Ofala festival is a yearly event aimed at allowing the Obi to publicly engage his people in a dance of life and celebration. The festival involved hundreds of men, women and youths – attired in beautiful traditional and ceremonial costumes – dancing to the pulsating beat of traditional drummers, instrumentalists and singers, which heralds the celebration with the NdiIchie (high Chiefs and the Obi).

The Ofala Festival 2012 unfolded in the traditional grounds of the Obi’s palace with the people witnessing the majestic entrance of the monarch adorned in his royal regalia and decorated crown (okpu ododo), accompanied by traditional trumpeters who eulogized to announce his arrival.

The whole ceremony was enhanced by the red-cap Chiefs (Ndiichie), colourfully dressed in their various traditional attires as well as symbols of their respective villages. They were accompanied by music and dance as they stepped out one after the other to honour and pay homage to the Obi.

The festival, which is one of the most surviving traditional ceremonies of the Onitsha people and the Igbo race, is organized to mark the climax of the New Yam Festival. The yam festival is an occasion for family re-union and merrymaking, and also a medium for the Obi to meet his subjects.

The Ofala is a ceremony, which every Onitsha indigene, both at home and in Diaspora, eagerly looks forward to every year. It is a homecoming for the sons and daughters of the ancient city who use the opportunity to evaluate and contribute to the development of the city by taking appraisal of the previous year for the purpose of projecting into the future. In his address at the occasion, the Obi of Onitsha, urged government to map out strategies to prevent future flood disasters in the country. He commiserated with victims of last flood disasters that ravaged some parts of the country, including Anambra State. The monarch commended the Governor of Anambra State,  Peter Obi for his efforts in evacuating and rehabilitating the flood victims.

The Deputy Speaker, House of Representatives, Hon Emeka Ihedioha, assured the people that the National Assembly would appropriate funds for the development of the town in the 2013 budget .

The event was sponsored by GLO and Diamond Bank plc. The festival closed with the Igwe and his Chiefs giving thanks to God in a church service at St. Mary Catholic Church, Onitsha.

Sunday 7 October 2012

On African Art And Identity Logging: A Historical Perspective

Chief Mrs Olufunmilayo Shyllon (left) presenting an award to Dr Frank UGIOMOH who delivered a lecture titled On African Art And Identity Logging: A Historical Perspective at OYASAF, recently.
A Section of the audience at OYASAF, during the lecture. 
UGIOMOH  is a Professor of Art History & Theory BA (Sculpture); MA (African Visual Arts); MA, PhD (Philosophy of History and Aesthetics); FPACA, mast. SNA

Friday 7 September 2012

OYASAF hosts American scholar, Stanley in grand style

Although invitees were few, it was however a carnival-like event when Prince Yemisi and Chief Mrs Olufunmilayo Shyllon hosted visiting American scholar, Janet Stanley at the Omooba Yemisi Adedoyin Shyllon Art Foundation (OYASAF), in Lagos, recently.

Aside meeting with the community of artists in Lagos c/o of the hosts’ introductory session, Stanley toured the vast collection of OYASAF. She was also treated to various Nigerian music and dances provided by artist, Nike Okundaye’s cultural troupe.
Janet Stanley (left), receiving the OYASAF gift from Mrs Nike Okundaye, Mrs Olufunmilayo Shyllon and Mrs Gbadamosi
 And in appreciation of Stanley’s contribution to the growth of Nigerian art in the U.S., OYASAF gave the visitor a gift of sculptural piece.

Stanley is a former Librarian at the University of Ife (now Obafemi Awolowo University).

 Present at the event were art patron, Chief and Mrs Rasheed Gbadamosi, Chief and Mrs Rueben Okundaye. Some of the artists included Olu Amoda, Adeola Balogun, Segun Ayesan, Oyerinde Olootu, Peju Alatise, Fidelis Odogwu.  

Monday 27 August 2012

The General Ineptitude To Creativity In Nigeria

By Prince (Engr) Yemisi Adedoyin Shyllon
In presenting my comments on the general ineptitude to creativity in our country, I must start by thanking the entire members of the council of the Society of Nigerian Artists led by Uwah USEN for recognizing my fellow art connoisseurs and I, for our roles as collectors in the symbiotic sustenance and growth of Nigerian visual art. According to Abraham Maslow, this obviously serves not only as an important motivator but also puts us in the significant position of doing more. This is because recognition is an important desire in man's hierarchy of needs.

However, I would like to seize this opportunity to draw our attention to some disturbing cases of disregard and devaluation of the creative values in our national development and wealth. To start with, Tajudeen Sowole of The Guardian drew our attention since July 13th, 2012 to the ongoing renovation of the Murtala Mohammed Airport in Lagos where the works of some of our present and past heroes are being desecrated. These our artistic heroes include such living legends as Prof Yusuf Grillo and Bruce Onobrakpeya whose works gave commendable value and aesthetics to the airport but are being destroyed without any consultation with, involvement or information to the artists. Other artists, whose works are open to being desecrated at the renovation of the Murtala Mohammed Airport, are the works of late Professor Agbo Folarin, the late Isiaka Osunde and Demas Nwoko. This kind of disregard to creativity is heartbreaking and I am forced to ask in this circumstance; what the collective mission of the SNA is? What has the SNA done since this anomaly was brought to public attention by Tajudeen Sowole inThe Guardian?

It appears that Nigeria is made up of people, who live in a country where artists are sentenced to marginalization and at which, visual art is at best seen as a feature of mere fancy. In Nigeria, everything points to the fact that our leaders are generally ambivalent towards visual art. Our attitude to art is unfortunately part and parcel a product of our colonial mentality.

An important case of ineptitude demonstrated by us as a people is typified by our contribution and complacency to the recent insult at our intelligence by the British Museum. The British Museum in avoiding the consistent and increasing pressure for the return of our looted artworks have of recent past, strategically arranged some assisted, cheap and insulting trips to England for some low and middle level civil servants of the National Commission for Museum and Monuments to carry out some curatorial works for private and public collections in England in exchange for some payment of mere pittance to the Nigerians, when compared to what they would have paid if they had used their own citizens. Meanwhile, the Nigerian art works in the collection of the British Museum are mostly the looted works carted away from our country by imperialists from 1897 and during our period of colonisation. Our collective intelligence has of recent been insulted by a spokesman of the British Museum, when he was asked about what his country was doing about returning the looted works. In reply, he told us to rather concentrate more on the benefits accruing to us from the on-going human-capacity development programme of the British Museum by their assisted training program in England, of civil servants instead of calling for the return of the looted works. The reality is that, our civil servants are just unconsciously being made to serve as curatorial semi-slaves of the British Museum and as pawns by the British in their strategic positioning of retaining their looted Nigerian artworks.

One other recent noticeable insult at our intelligence, is that by the Museum of Art in Vienna through its funding of a widely publicised exhibition of lace textile materials in the Lagos Museum under the pretext of helping us to celebrate lace textiles, as part of our collective heritage. In reality, the whole essence of the funding of that exhibition by the Austrians is to reactivate their dying Austrian lace export trade to Nigeria. This being necessary because Austria has since lost its domineering market of lace cloth materials in Nigeria to China.

A painful disturbing experience of recent, is the behaviour of a Vice Chancellor of one of the first five universities in Nigeria. This Vice Chancellor had an “Anyanwu” (a bronze work of about ten feet) by Ben Enwowu uprooted from the living-room of his official residence. He also removed works of such great renowned master artists as Akinola Lashekan, Bruce Onobrakpeya and Ben Enwonwu from the walls of the Vice Chancellor’s official quarters as well as a door carved by the late Lamidi Fakeye. The Vice Chancellor has since sent all these great works to the storage section of the institution’s Museum of National History. This was done under his unenlightened presumption that artworks are demonic. He must have imagined how ghosts would haunt him as a result of the presence of these artworks in his official residence. All this is happening in this university that boasts of a solid department of fine arts, staffed with members of SNA without efforts being made to preserve the artworks by them.

Also disturbing is our fast-declining heritage as a great sculptural nation. If you recall, our forebears were more celebrated and acclaimed as sculptors than painters. This is more with particular reference to the situation observable at the Yaba College of Technology, which happens to be the first creative art institution in Nigeria. In that school, the 2011/ 2012 graduation class has only one sculptor as potential graduate being trained by eight to 10 lecturers, while there are 18 painters being trained by the same number of lecturers. The situation in YABATECH is not particularly different from what is happening in other art institutions in Nigeria. What is the Society of Nigerian Artists doing to arrest this decline in sculptural art practice in Nigeria? The SNA needs to address this problem, which effect is evident at most galleries in Nigeria and even at exhibitions organised by the Art Galleries Association of Nigeria which all feature an overwhelming preponderance of paintings as against the near absence of sculptural artworks. What is the society of Nigerian artists doing with respect to addressing the problems affecting the growth and development of visual art in Nigeria? What is it doing to draw the attention of the government of Nigeria to some of these observations? There is a need to restructure the Society of Nigerian Artists to position it as a strong spokesman and vanguard of protecting the interest of Nigeria artists and the creative works of our great creative minds.

Making an impact when it comes to protecting the historical, cultural and artistic legacy of Nigeria’s heritage will only be successful if all of us commit ourselves to their protection. As artists, art lovers, collectors and Nigerians, it is our responsibility to communicate the importance of art resource to the general public in a way that would invoke pride and passion. It is our responsibility to create a Nigeria in which such acts of desecrating our artistic heritage would, in no way be tolerated. In the meantime, we must do everything to protect our collective artistic creativity which is currently under great threat.

If this fight is not led by the Society of Nigerian Artists, The National Gallery of Art , The Association Of Gallery Owners Of Nigeria and The Visual Art Society Of Nigeria, then who will lead it? If we do not take a stand now our future generations will only have us to blame.
This paper was delivered at the 2012 AGM of The Society of Nigerian Artists, held at The Meridien Hotel in UYO, Akwa Ibom State, Nigeria on the 24th of August 2012 by Prince (Engr) Yemisi Shyllon

Prince (Engr) Yemisi Adedoyin Shyllon is the Chairman/CEO Omooba Yemisi Adedoyin Shyllon Art Foundation (OYASAF).

Thursday 19 July 2012

Talking Drum… Africa’s rhythmic export

Although it’s of West African origin, the Talking Drum - as OYASAF’s research shows - has found its way into other parts of the continent and overseas, exporting the magic of using a single musical instrument to communicate in pitches.
An artisan, making talking drums in, ketu, Lagos, Southwest, Nigeria

Talking drum is hourglass-shaped and two-faced, with a drum on each end. It is also known as 'waist-drum,' since the hourglass shape appears to give the drum a waist-like form. The drum is made from animal hide, and have leather chords, which run along its body attached to the animal hide at the other end. Talking drum varies in sizes; from the smallest called gangan to the largest known as dundun.

The talking drum is held under the left arm and squeezed as the drummer hits each surface with a bent stick. The act of squeezing the chord changes the pitch and gives various notes: the harder the drum is squeezed, the higher the note produced, giving the drum a type of rythym that can be used to communicate in various African languages.

The origin of talking drum can be traced to the ancient old Oyo Empire, from where its popularity spread to other West African cities prior to the Transatlantic slave trade. And with the slave trade, the drum was sub-consciously exported to Central, South America and the Caribbean as a result of the Transatlantic Trade in slaves. Quite interesting, the drum, according to sources, was banned when the slave masters found out that African slaves were using it to communicate.

Talking drum is called by different names across West Africa, some of which include gangan, dundun (Yoruba), Kalangu, Dan darbi (Hausa), dondo (Songhai), igba (Igbo) and donno, lunna (Dagbani Gurunsi).

A Yoruba talking drummer (note how he squeezes the drum's chord with his left hand).
The pitch of the drum can be regulated based on how the player strikes the surface of the drum to change its rhythm. The pitches of the drum can mirror people’s voice, hence the name ‘talking drums.’

Wider strength of the talking drum’s pitch and rhythms is the ability to communicate with the spiritual world, according to the faith of each African tribe. For example, the talking drum produces prayers and blessings for every new day in countless villages across West Africa. It’s one of the oldest instruments used by griots in West Africa, particularly in most part of Yoruba land, till date.

Thursday 5 July 2012

Croyle Ekong is OYASAF's 2012 intern on contemporary art

Strengthening its mission in capacity building for scholarly art disciplines, OYASAF has offered internship opportunity to a U.S-based scholar in contemporary art and curatorial studies.

 Amber Croyle Ekong, a Nigerian-American based in U.S, is currently the Contemporary Art and Curatorial Intern with OYASAF.  
Amber Croyle Ekong
Although she has diverse interest and a mixed education, she has decided to focus her academic and professional disciplines on Visual Arts.

 Ekong hopes to continue her work in the U.S. after the internship with OYASAF.

 Some of her briefs at OYASAF include program planning, documentation, curatorial, management and artists-relation.

Ekong has an eclectic academic background, having majored in Politics and minored in Spanish at Pomona College in Southern California while completing extensive coursework in Visual Arts and History.

After graduating in 2003, Ekong completed a yearlong appointment as a Rotary Ambassadorial Scholar in Mexico City where she studied Latin American Literature at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México and launched an independent community education project.

While gaining professional experience in admissions, international marketing, program development, and administration, Ekong studied Apparel Design at Seattle Central Community College in 2007 followed by doing contract fashion design and customised hand embroidery work.

Reflecting the diversity of her commitments, she joined in founding the Umojafest Peace Center in 2008 (a space for community engagement and activism), where she was Campaign Manager for candidate Wyking Garrett in the Seattle mayor’s race and Chair of the Ecojustice and Sustainability Committee.

Throughout her sojourn, Ekong has been a supporter of and participant in the arts: she worked as an Art Specialist and Site Manager at the City of Seattle Bath House Gallery and Event Center as well as a committed volunteer to organizations such as the Central District Forum for Arts and Ideas.