Monday, 16 November 2009

Ezeilo’s Kambani… All for tomorrow’s sake

BY TAJUDEEN SOWOLE
WHEN a teenager, over 25 years ago, presented his portrait drawing of the then President, Alhaji Shehu Shagari at the State House, Ribadu Road, Lagos, a seed of nurturing artists at younger age was sowed, sub-consciously.
That teenager who is now the founder of Kambani Arts, Chima Ezeilo is giving to the society what, in his thinking, is a way of breeding tomorrow’s masters in the young art enthusiasts of today. From the United Kingdom, Ezeilo, an artist and architect had carried out several projects back home to empower the art scene.
Currently, Kambani is engaging teenagers across the country in art exhibitions and competition in such centres as Osogbo, Benin, Nsukka and Zaria, representing four zones in the project known as Mirror the master, a collaborative effort with Access Bank. The first two events concluded recently in Osogbo and Benin, involved royal fathers, artists and school children.
Ezeilo explains that, “we have a strong vision to make a difference by developing the art masters of tomorrow. These young ones will be exposed to the masters and gain inspiration from the works of the masters who are celebrated from time to time”.
In Benin, three winners emerged: First Prize, Aiwekhoe Osamagbue, 16, Edo College; second, Obi Augustina, 15, Greater Tomorrow College; third, Delina Ruth Imabibo, 9, Negbenebor International School.
But the project goes beyond discovering talents,it is also about; documenting art on the electronic media as well.
Kambani is making impact in TV documentary of visual art related subjects: one of such is Diaries - Voices of the Unheard, a focus growing popularity of African arts in Europe and America, which, has “impacted on ordinary Africans and made a practical difference in their lives.” The documentary premiered at the Silverbird Cinema, Victoria Island, Lagos in June, 2006. In the U. K., one of the art group’s most memorable show was Africa Within: Many Eyes One Soul, a joint exhibition of African art by Kambani Arts and another group, also based there, Passion Arts.
Also, in the same year, Kambani organized an art exhibition, Expression, launched at The Commonwealth Club of the Royal Commonwealth Society. A month long show, it was part of the year’s Black History Month events. The exhibition featured graduate artists from a number of African countries, including Nigeria, Ghana, Mozambique, South Africa and Kenya.
A year after, Kambani had the backing of Cadbury Nigeria and the Heart of Africa Project to take the Expression tour across Nigeria this time and he, added children’s creative arts and writing to it. Each area had a unique Nigerian cultural, theme such as Argungu Fishing Festival for Abuja, Koroso Dance for Kano and Ekpe Festival, Calabar.
He recalls that Expression in Calabar offered an opportunity to have an idea about children’s thought concerning a trip to the slave history museum of the town. “Children expressed this through the creative writing workshops. They also participated in fashion, music, dance, readings and drama activities as part of the expressions experience.”
In Benin, similar situation re-played when participating school children set their canvases and rendered various thoughts on their environment.
“It is sad that in our society art is a profession that has not reached the desirability level held by medicine, law and engineering. It is often the subject of neglect and apathy from parents to children, no wonder children are not exactly clambering for a piece of art pie.”
For the participating youths in the Current project, Mirror the Master, there is an immediate reward to look forward to as the winner at a grand finale to be held in Lagos would have an opportunity to visit London. This visit, he says includes “attending some exclusive art galleries and participating in an accompanied viewing to see the works of Enwonwu and Chinwe Roy, who were both commissioned by Her Majesty, the Queen of England to sculpt and paint her portraits.”

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