At 77, Roland Ogiamien Returns with New Sculptures

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Yinka Olatunbosun

Roland Ogiahiemen, a Benin-based artist is back in Lagos with new sculptures. This time, he has in his collection works made of bronze and plastics, alluding to his evolving techniques. But, he has good reasons to work more with other media asides wood.

One day, he was passing by the University of Benin when he noticed that some large trees were being felled. He was alarmed. Wood is his work tool since 1962. He loves working with Ebony because of its resilience. But he has to go to Ondo to purchase them. They have become really scarce that even his suppliers are short of them.

With the shortage of good trees, the deforestation happening before him was quite disturbing so he entered the campus and made enquiries. He was told the log movers had been paid yet they refused to cut into pieces and clear the felled trees. Ogiamien volunteered to take them away. Hence, he got enough wood that would last him several years, at no cost except transportation.

At a recent briefing to usher in his show titled, “Journey Through Time,” at the Resource Place, Ikeja, Ogiamien expressed his passion for sculpting even with age-related challenges.

“I don’t work like I used to. I work two or three times in a week, two or three hours in a day. I just relax in between, take some refreshment. At the Harmattan workshop, people are surprised at how I still handle my classes,” he said.

That same surprise will likely be expressed by his audience when the show opens on April 27 with his 30 eclectic pieces.

“I work with treated wood. Some have been treated for 15years so that termites can’t touch them. Some wood have natural repellant,” he revealed.

Ogiamien, a protégé of renowned sculptor, Erhabor Emokpaehas roots in Igun Street the home of Bronze in Benin City. With over 40 years of active studio practice, his commissioned works include the carved doors at the St Leo Catholic Church in Ikeja, palace of the Ewujale of One by amongst others.

Some of his pieces at this show are “Night Romance”, “Bini Queen Head”, “Couples At Night”, “Dancing Princess” and more.

Pa T.A. Fasuyi, another foremost art educator joins in as guest artist at this show with 10 sculptures. The show runs till May 4.