Nike Art Gallery, Nigeria’s leading art gallery and hub of tourism wrapped up last year with a special award ceremony in honour of scores of artists, art curators and collectors who have contributed to the development of arts in the city of Lagos.
Tagged “Connecting Lagos Concert”, it was organised as a red-carpet event to usher in the New Year. The awardees at the event include Bruce Onobrakpeya, Oscar Yao Doe, Kolade Oshinowo, Rom Isichei, Peju Alatishe, Tola Wewe, Ngozi Akande, Peju Olayiwola, Sandra Obiago, Yemisi Shyllon, Ambassador Benedict Onochie Amobi, Lucky Negete, Oscar Onyema, Mrs Temilola Hamzat, Robin and Hugh Campbell, Chief Mrs Paulette Vautrier, General Lekan Adeniran, Chief Diana Chan, Chinwe Uwatse and Jess Castellote.
For the co-owners of the gallery, 2018 is a special year packed with activities such as festivals and workshops. On the criteria for selecting the winners for the 2017 awards, Mr Okundaye said it was done on merit.
“We know who is dancing and who is not dancing,” said Mr. Okundaye. “We have watched the society and we know those who are competent in art especially in Lagos. We want to honour those who have genuine interest in the art and often respond quickly to invitations to art events and when you need their assistance they will provide. I remember when we were working on a book on Nike Art Gallery, we had individuals who provided money to see the project through. I don’t want to start mentioning names. The book, Nike Okundaye: Her Life, Her Art’ is a 500-paged book. It should be out between May and July.”
The gallery is working towards an annual event that will feature art exhibitions on a regular basis, amongst other events.
“Our foundation is also organising a series of workshops which is targeted at rural women; to teach them art. We have done that in the past. We want to hold some here in Lagos and another in Osogbo, Abuja and Kogi where my wife hails from. This workshop will provide skills to alleviate poverty,” he continued.
Meanwhile, the Okundayes have acquired a six-hectare land from the federal government in Abuja. The land will accommodate a multi-purpose art village that has a six- floor gallery, amphitheatre, library and a textile museum to accommodate all Nike’s textile works over the years. There will be a training facility with guest houses for trainees.
Okundaye also recounted a personal experience that touched him and propelled him and his wife to create job opportunities through the arts.
“I remember a time when a master’s degree-holder came to look for work and I told him that we only have a spot for a cleaner. He said he would take it. He studied Industrial Design. I decided to hire him as one of our management staff. He later got a job at an oil company. You can see what poverty has driven lots of our young men to do. It is really painful.”
Nike Okundaye also added that the gallery will partner with the Lagos State government to organise all-year round cultural activities.
“We want to curate festivals every month in partnership with Lagos state government. We want more cultural activities to take place in Lagos so that people will be coming from different parts of the country to our city. That is why we are working with the organisers of Sisi Oge and this is just the beginning. We can recreate site specific festivals here such as Coconut festival in Badagry,’’ she disclosed.
Mr Okundaye pleaded for government’s quick intervention into the Nigerian visa process which many tourists claim to be quite difficult. The easy issuance of visa will create an enabling environment for visitors who want to experience Nigeria and her cultural life.