Okechukwu Uwaezuoke

For the Life In My City Art Festival, another grand finale and gala night in Enugu looms. Aficionados and habitués of the annual art festival and competition – better known by its acronym LIMCAF – have good reasons to hope for a better outing for its 12th edition, this year.

That is why the festival’s organising committee has rolled out the list of the build-up events to the gala night. It has also expectedly appointed this year’s national jury panel, which will be headed by the University of Port Harcourt’s art historian, sculptor and printmaker, Professor Frank Ugiomoh.

A recent announcement by the festival’s art director, Dr Ayo Adewunmi, premised its choice of highly respected academics and reputable studio practitioners on the fact that in view of the festival’s growing stature and continued impressive growth of interest by young artists from all over the country.

That should explain why Professor Ugiomoh would be joined by art heavyweights like the Ahmadu Bello University-trained multimedia artist Ayo Aina, the postmodern painter Blaise Gundu Gbaden, a former LIMCAF laureate Ngozi Omeje-Ezema, the Yaba College of Technology-trained artist Odun Orinmolade, the Institute of Management and Technology-based Fide Udenta, the LIMCAF curator Chike Obeagu and the Alliance Française, Ibadan’s director, Nicholas Michelland.

Michelland’s presence in the jury panel attests to the contributions of the French to the success of the annual event. For besides the financial and administrative support of the Alliance Française Network, there is also the open endorsement of the event by the French government, which is represented by its embassy in Nigeria. Indeed, the current French Consul General Laurent Polonceaux graced one of the recent grand finales and toured the exhibition with the Enugu State Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi.

The festival, which was recently hailed by the University of Lagos-based Professor Peju Olayiwola as “a shining example to all”, has always leveraged on this French connection since inception at the Enugu Press Centre in 2007.
During its first four years of existence, it was bankrolled by Chief Robert Orji’s advertising and printing firm Rocana Nigeria Limited. Recall that the idea of the festival itself was mooted thanks to Chief Orji’s passion for art-collection. Thus, one man’s predilection for the visual arts has turned Enugu into a mecca for artists from all over the country and beyond. Indeed, the pan-Nigerian format of LIMCAF ensures the annual influx of young artists to the serene state capital. These youths are offered the platform to not only showcase and commercialise their works, but also to win prizes and interact with the larger community on both national and international levels.

The first four front-runners of the festival’s last year’s edition were sponsored on a trip to the Dakar Art Biennale, Dak’Art, by the revered best-selling Professor El Anatsui. The University of Nigeria, Nsukka-based Ghanaian-born artist had previously made a handsome cash donation to LIMCAF as an eloquent token of his endorsement.

There is, of course, the Pan-African Circle of Artists – otherwise known by its acronym PACA – which lent its expertise and experience to LIMCAF. Indeed, PACA’s most prominent members Dr Krydz Ikwuemesi and Ayo Adewunmi were alongside two Rocana staff members Esona Onuoha and Onyinye Igbo among the festival’s first administrative pillars. Meanwhile, the festival’s zonal exhibition has already kicked off in Auchi Polytechnic for Benin-Auchi Zone on Thursday, September 6 and continues at the National Gallery, Uyo for the Calabar-Uyo Zone on Thursday, September 13, at the Alliance Française, Port Harcourt for Port Harcourt Zone on Saturday, September 22, at the Thought Pyramid Art Centre in Wuse, Abuja for Abuja Zone on Tuesday, September 25, at the Alliance Française, Ibadan for Ibadan Zone on Saturday, September 29, at the Thought Pyramid Art Centre in SW Ikoyi, Lagos for Lagos Zone on Monday, October 1 and at the Alliance Française, Enugu for Enugu Zone on Thursday, October 4. It is from these zonal exhibitions that these exhibition that the final 100 works for the grand finale exhibition in Enugu will emerge, which holds from Monday, October 22 to Saturday, October 27. The grand finale and gala night itself will hold at the Institute of Management and Technology’s International Conference Centre’s amphitheatre on Saturday, October 27.

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