The 12th edition of Art Is Everywhere (AIE) which is a waste to art project held at the premises of Alliance Française Ibadan between April 16 and 21. The creative workshop had 25 participants, mostly young artists from Ibadan, Abeokuta and Ile-Ife. The participants included students from The Polytechnic Ibadan, Obafemi Awolowo Univeristy Ile-Ife, and some secondary school students from Ibadan metropolis.

Art is Everywhere is a waste-to-art project initiated in 2005 in collaboration with Alliance Française Enugu and with initial support from Prince Claus Funds, The Netherlands. The project objectives include rediscovering waste as a resource for artistic creation thereby drawing attention to environmental issues, providing avenue for training younger artists and creating inter cultural exchanges.

AIE workshop has been held in various cities in Nigeria and the Gambia, including Lagos, Enugu, Kaduna, Jos, Zaria and Banjul. So far over 230 artists have benefited directly from the project. The uniqueness of AIE Workshops lies in its mobility and the synergy of various categories of artists, academics, studio and junior school.

AIE 12th workshop is peculiar in a number of ways; it is the first time that all the workshop resource persons (Okechukwu Eze, Okocha Eze, Lanre Tejuoso and Moses Ibanga) are beneficiaries of the project. For the first time also, the workshop included photography and performing art.

Various lectures were given at the one week workshop. Lanre Tejuoso spoke on the topic “Working with Wastes: Personal Experience”. Tejuoso graduated from the University of Nigeria Nsukka, he is currently a studio artist in Abeokuta where he owns Aroko Green Museum. Tejuoso one of the artists selected for the Dak’art 2018 in Dakar Senegal is renowned for his performing art and his waste-to-art conceptual art. The highlight of the AIE 12 was the enactment of his performance, titled “ Eje Ohun Wara”, meaning, Milk and blood. The performance which took place on the street of Iyaganku area of Ibadan drew attention from the public. According to Tejuosu, he was only trying to engage his audience in a dialogue about the Herdsmen killing in the country. He affirmed that he has no solution to the problem, but rather believes that urgent solution is required.

Other lectures were “Finishing & Detailing in Waste-to-art” by Okocha Eze who is the MD of T-CREATIONS, Enugu, an interior decoration company in Enugu; “Reusable Plastics as a Creative Resource” by Okechukwu Eze, one of the coordinators of Art Is everywhere Project who lives and runs a studio in Lagos. Eze works with varieties of reusable materials. He won the 2nd position in the prestigious Life in My City National Art Competition in 2010 with his artwork “National Cake”. His experiments with recyclable plastic has been considered dynamic.

At the opening ceremony the project coordinator, Dr. Ayo Adewunmi, who lectures at Department of Graphic Design, Institute of Management and Technology, IMT, Enugu, talked about “Art Is Everywhere: Concept and Vision”. He traced the history of AIE to the Overcoming Maps tour of the Pan African Circle of Artists (PACA) in the early 2000s, the lecture of Professor Adande in Benin Republic, title Art Is Everywhere and encouragement by the world renowned artist, El Anatsui. Adewunmi added that more importantly for him is the symbolism of the workshop. Beyond the restoration of discarded materials to reusable state is the metaphor of hope for the dejected, the rejected and the abandoned. The ideology which advocates the maxim, “never give up”, encourages people never to consign themselves to hopelessness, because from the heap of one’s ruin may arise beauty and appreciation. He illustrated that with a work titled “Group Photo” by Charles Achibi, made with discarded slippers, plastic container covers which now adorns a house in Paris.

AIE is one of the few workshops that have made valuable contributions to the development of modern Nigerian art. Recent researches have shown steady growth in the reuse of wastes in creativity since 2008. Talking about follow up on past participants, Adewunmi observed that many of AIE alumni have excelled in their practices. He gave the example of Lanre Tejuoso, who is one of the three Nigerians selected for Dak’art 2018 in Senegal, Okechukwu Eze, who won LIMCAF 2nd Prize 2010, Izu Moneme who won LIMCAF Mixed Media Category Prize 2015, Chnenye Mariagoretti Eze who won LIMCAF Overall Prize 2012 and Ifedili Chibuike who won 1st Prize, Sterling Bank National Recycling Art Competition in 2017.

The one week workshop started with searching for waste materials around Ibadan and from the second day participants began to explore and experiment with their various materials. At the end of the workshop on Friday, April 20, over 60 art objects were ready for exhibition. Among the objects is “Nigeria” by Wasiu Arowolo, produced from cow horn, metal and wood. The work, according to Arowolo addresses the situation of Nigeria, a country which is richly blessed with resources but lack the leadership that could turn around the fortune of the nation. He said, “The problem is the leadership and not the people.

Another work “Bicycle” by Gbenga Oduola, one of the guest artists at the workshop illustrates the circle of daily struggles of Nigeria who are currently facing extreme difficulty. Moses Ibanga’s “Playing by the Rules” made from plastic particles and wastes of different types suggest equality between people and culture.

At the closing ceremony of the one week workshop and the opening of the products exhibition on April 21, the Director of Alliance Francaise, Nicolas Michelland who hosted the workshop and who personally supported the workshop, expressed delight in the success of the 12th edition of the AIE workshop. Michelland noted that he met Dr. Ayo Adewunmi when was working at Alliance Francaise Enugu, recalling that it was there AIE was founded in 2005. He said, “I have been longing to host the AIE workshop, I am so happy it was a successful outcome”.