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‘Lagos @ 50’ arts: Preservation is key – Archie-Abia


A visual artist, Godwin Archie-Abia, has observed that one of the major problems confronting the Nigerian art sector today is improper preservation of artworks mounted at designated places in the country.

Godwin Archie-Abia
Archie-Abia, while expressing his views in a chat with Vanguard on the artworks done at strategic locations in Lagos to commemorate ‘Lagos @ 50’ stressed that Lagos State has done well in engaging artists to beautify the city, but should also put into consi-deration the sustainability and preservation of such huge project.
“I am very happy over what is happening in Lagos State today. His Excellency, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode, gover-nor of Lagos State, has done credibly well by encouraging our young artists to showcase their creative potentials in a new dimension. If you tour round the city of Lagos today, you will be amazed by what the artists has done to beautify the city with paintings and sculptural pieces mounted at strategic places in the city. I see it as a welcome develop-ment but my worry and question is: ‘Can this huge project be sustained in terms of preservation and main-tenance?
“Having said that, I believe that Lagos State with its pedigree as a center of excellence should have engaged credible contractors to do this job. But it should be noted that art is life. You cannot do this works and expect it to last forever. Take for instance, a human being created by God. He goes to hospital periodically to maintain his life. We should not have this notion that as soon as you have a piece of art, you should not maintain it – both indoor and outdoor art.”
Archie-Abia, who is the owner of Win-Arc studio Lagos, an exponent of bone-art, is of the view that policies to safeguard artworks are what government need.
“Government should think inwards to formulate policies that will preserve these projects. If there is no model, how are they going to maintain all these artworks scathered everywhere? If you go to Rome today, you will see works dated to 19th century that are still there. But in Nigeria, if you visit some of the sculpted art pieces, you will see that it is in deteriorating state. As an artist, I have been practicing for over 20 years and one thing I have observed in the country is lack of maintenance of artworks in public places.
Lagos State government should draw a feasible framework that will sustain the initiative. If the present administration leaves office, any other person taking over can continue through an established framework and policy. Art should be seen beyond aesthetics or object of decoration because, art has a spirit. It can speak . People who understand the language of art can read and understand it. For instance, a sculpted art piece of a prominent personality or a statesman can inspire a younger person or perhaps relive a nostalgic feeling in the mind of an elderly person. Every art work should impact someone psychologically either negative or positive depending on the kind of feeling attached to the work. Art can minister or heal either by emotional attachment or mental connection gotten from a work placed on a hospital wall or as an interior décor. Anything that can bring peace to you should not be taken for granted. When you listen to music which is another form of art, you can get healing, spiritually or be inspired.
I believe that policies to promote art should also be in place to encourage artists such as financing the industry through accessible grants. But unfortunately, most grant schemes are rhetoric without implementation.
We should be able to teach young ones creative thinking that will enable them engage in positive endeavour as they grow. These, somehow, will eliminate crime in the system.

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