Masqurade dance from the creeks of Gbaramatu 2012
By Rebecca Ejifoma
Photograph, they say, tells a story more than a thousand words. Citizens of the Niger Delta region have come out to show and promote the culture of their land and what it has got to not only Nigerians but also to the world that the beauty of their land is more than the ugly side the visitors encounter. This was revealed to journalists at a press preview on Wednesday, the 6th of March at the Falomo Shopping Centre, Falomo, Ikoyi-Lagos.
An F/Stop Collective group of five young artists, who came all the way from the Niger Delta to Lagos, tell the story of ND’s beauty, culture, festivals, colours, life scheme, creeks, beaches, traditions and lifestyles among others, using photography as a tool.
Such five artistic photographers include, Timipre Willis Amah, Ebiware Okiy, Israel Ophori, Tuoyo Omagba and Perez Tigidam.
According to the supervisor of the group, Mr. Tam Fiofori, ND has always been seen as a violet place. But these young men are trying to remind the people of the beauty in the place. They are using photographs to do what other culture artists, writers like Kelechi Amadi and King Sarawewa have done through writing and literature. ‘They are telling us now that they have much beautiful things in Delta.’
Tam expressed his thoughts on the creativity and the enthusiasm they possess, as ‘they represent the new generation of artists, who believe in good shots. That is why they want Nigerians to realize there is really beauty in the ND, using images to project it.’
The leader of the team, Timipre, explained that it was the maiden edition with the theme, Circus of Encounter. ‘This theme centres on all the things you stumble into as you come into the Niger Delta but more on the beauty of the people, which we have seen, as against the ugly side that the visitors have encounter.’
He went further to say that the N/Deltans were known to be lazy people but said he still he wondered what the word ‘Lazy’ meant. ‘Nobody wants to know how we survive and been able to conquer the environment within these periods.’
The group opened to journalists some of the beautiful places in the region including Brass in Bayelsa, Osbo Lake in Yenagoa, Bonny Island, the beaches and the Escravous the beautiful things in Agbaroto, where they still have the natural habitats even though the only thing the people know is to go there and take the oil. ‘You will be amazed at the things you see there.’
The Brand Consultant and Marketing Communicator also one of the photography artists, Perez, tells of his primary work and how he got interested in the group. ‘I do marketing designation and tourism marketing as well. The first time I saw Timipre’s work I thought it was done by a white man until I traced him to Bayelsa.’
He mourned the thoughts in the mind of the people about the ND region. ‘One thing about people today is that once they hear of Niger Delta, the first thing that comes to their mind is kidnapping; if I walk into the region, wearing a good shirt and a pair of trousers, I’ll be pick up. But you will be surprised that it is not so.’
According to him, the first day he visited Bonny when he heard of the light house although he went for another reason. ‘I was shocked at the sight of the place then I asked myself if it was the same Bonny I always hear of, because what I saw was an irony. Bonny is a community messed up with poverty, no electricity, no water and nothing! Yet beside that community is a fence, which demarcates it from the oil tanks.’
In his words, he concluded that you see poverty and wealth lay side by side but separated with a small wall. You’ll be surprised that a huge number of tourists are still queuing to go to Kabu and other trouble places in the region. Then I ask, what is different about ours?
Israel, through his works of photography, tells his day to day life and the way he sees the region. ‘I see photography as a way of life and I use it to tell my story, the way I see the world around me daily and what goes on in the region, using my camera to tell it positively.
They wished to encourage and keep the Niger Deltans aware of the happenings; that all hope is not lost and that they should begin to think differently, because there is more beauty in the region than they see. ‘There is still good I n the land.’
Tam acknowledged that the artists came to Lagos, ‘the centre of Art’ to be publicised.
The Circus of Encounter exhibition will hold from 23rd March to 6th April this year from 5pm to 6pm at the Quintessence Gallery in Falomo Shopping Centre, Falomo, Ikoyi-Lagos.
The Curator of the event, Mr. Moses Ohiomokhare, tells what Photo-graphy is about. ‘It is the art, science and practice of creating durable images and it is a creative career that is gaining prominence in the art industry today.’
Timpre Willis Amah, a lecturer in the Niger Delta University, Wilberforce Island, Bayelsa, uses photography as an artistic tool to express his perception and emotion. He also uses it to fulfill his creative vision. He enjoys watching and catching the changing activities of nature and putting it into documents.
Isreal Ophori is a freelance art photo-journalist and videographer, who enjoys visual documentation of everyday living. He has participated in several exhibitions and his experience spans 10 years. He studied photography in Yaba college of Technology. His artistic documentation is quite exciting and will fascinate art lovers and critics.
Tuoyo Omagba is another talented photographer whose works are a great feast for art lovers. He enjoys artistic documentation and photography of everyday life. He has captured various exciting moments in the Niger Delta after his stint with Guardian Newspaper as a freelance photographer. He has had some exhibitions in Lagos and Abuja. He engages his viewers and gives them food for thought. The gallery is delighted to have him around.
Perez Tigidam is a professionally trained photographer, who cut his teeth with the ace photographer – Kelechi Amadi Obi. A great advocate of urban innovation and this you find in his various urban promotion projects. Perez is a graduate of University of Port-Harcourt and also trained at the prestigious Orange Academy school of Brand Innovation. Your interpretation of his works depends on the prism from which you look at them.
Ebiware Dotimi Okiy started photography after his first degree in Economics from Obafemi Awolowo University, Ife. He was also trained by Don Barber, a renowned photographer in Lagos. Ebiware has passion for documentary photography and has participated in several exhibitions including the 10th Biennial of African Contemporary Art in Dakar, Senegal. He hopes that his works will help to redirect the approach of the society to the rights of the people.
‘But these five artists have touched issues that will generate discussions on the Niger-Delta. The positive side of this area comes to the public view and the gallery is happy to make this its first exhibition this year. This spectacular showing, we hope, will remain in our minds.’