Yinka Olatunbosun reports on the Lagos Chapter of the Society of Nigerian Artists’ transformation of Stadium Under bridge, Surulere to a soapbox of artistic expressions.
Overhead was a bridge with a long queue of trucks. Underneath the bridge was a DJ stand with blaring music to accompany artists who trickled in, bearing their easels, canvas and other materials needed for drawing, painting and sculpture. It was the final day of the awareness week for the arts community in Lagos last Saturday as the members of the Society of Nigerian Artists (SNA) Lagos Chapter, embarked on this live art demonstration away from the comfort of their studios. Interestingly, some of them came with their family members and were also joined by students and graduates of Fine Art from different institutions.
Commuters trapped in the unprecedented traffic enroute Ikorodu road allowed their eyes to feast on some of the finished artistic offerings. Busy hands worked hurriedly on the small busts placed on the wooden stools. A dark-skinned female volunteer wearing jet-black curls acted as the model for some of the artists while others drew inspiration from the environment and imagination. Walking past some artists whose faces seemed familiar, it was an opportunity to distract them with light conversations about their work but only a few fell for the bait. They focused on the work at hand, pausing momentarily to take some refreshments. Whatever had to be done needed to be completed by 5pm when the policemen’s job of securing the venue would be over. Expectedly, a few mischievous street urchins made a stop-over just as the live art session came to a close.
The Chairman, SNA Lagos Idowu Sonaya expressed his delight at seeing the final event of the awareness week wrapping up on an exciting note.
“It was exhilarating because we have been able to come out of the norm to reach out and engage the public for them to see what we do. And that is the message that we wanted to pass today. With the turnout so far and the participation of our artists, I realise that a lot of artists want to come out of their studio to experience this. This platform gives them that rare opportunity. We won’t mind if we can develop this into an annual visual arts festival for us. Maybe next time, we may choose to use the National Stadium’s main bowl as a main stage. We are interacting with lots of graduates from art institutions in Lagos and they are part of this. We want to keep them informed as we keep searching for that panache. I believe that by the time we have another one, there will be a higher turnout,’’ he said.
On the impact that the live art demonstration will have on the Lagos audience, Sonaya explained that this initiative will give the community of art professionals the required visibility.
“Some people came around to observe and appreciate what we were doing. With this, we hope to have communicated that the artists are serious people and we are here for serious business. So, whenever we mention SNA, it will not take several explanations before people can know who we really are. Today is the climax of all the activities that we have started since Tuesday. Yesterday, we had games in a relaxed atmosphere. And everything went well,’’ he gushed.
Plans are underway for the construction of a new SNA Secretariat at Freedom Park, Lagos.