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Kavita’s 60th birthday prefaces the November auction
An art exhibition showing over 100 pieces of (mostly) paintings served as “starters” for the 60th Birthday dinner for Kavita Chellarams last Friday evening at the Kia Showroom on Victoria Island. Gorgeously attired in a tight fitting, ankara beaded cotton dress, the slim, trim, Founder and CEO of Arthouse Contemporary, looked more like a runway model than the grandmother of two that she is, as she acknowledged greetings of artists and collectors alike. The significance of the choice of an Ankara dress will not be lost on those who are privy to Mrs. Chellarams’ background; she is a daughter of the Aswani family, famed textile makers who had a flourishing factory on Oshodi –Apapa expressway before the country’s textile enterprise started floundering in the 90s. The paintings on view at the Showroom are for the nineteenth edition of Arthouse Contemporary’s auction of Modern and Contemporary Art, slated for the same venue from tomorrow Monday November 27 to Tuesday November 28, 2017. Founded in 2007, the auction house specialises in modern and contemporary art from West Africa. In the last two years, it has added a foundation that serves as residency for artists, with workshops, studio visits and artists’ talks as part of the residency fare. If the selection of works for tomorrow’s auction says anything about the taste of the ‘birthday girl’, it is that she prefers the safe, proven territory of old school Nigerian paintings to conceptual, non-drawn art.

The Biggest LABAF Was The Least Funded, Most Desperate, In A Decade
Between September and November 2017, Jahman Anikulapo watched, with growing disappointment, as sponsorship of the 19th Lagos Book and Art Festival (LABAF) came in slow trickles. A promised 1Million naira turns into an actual payment of 300,000Naira here. An expected 2Million elsewhere shrivels into 1 Million there. Apart from donations of books that would be discussed at the Festival, the enthusiasm from the usual sponsors was low. By November 8, when the Festival, the oldest of Nigeria’s contemporary book and art parleys, had reached the middle, Mr. Anikulapo, the Festival director, had only received N4.5Million, mainly from three sponsors: Niger Delta Petroleum, Marine Platforms and Century Group. And yet everywhere, his budget kept ballooning. What used to be essentially a three day programmes, with two preface events, had been stretched to one week. The children segment of the programme, now with the active participation of the Lagos State Government, was growing its invoice, desperate to reach a Million naira. There were travel expenses for authors flown in from outside Lagos and out of the country. Hotel bills kept inching up. And the venue, Freedom Park? That’s the most unsung sponsor of LABAF, but a difficult conversation had to keep going. “It was the most desperate period”, Anikulapo, himself a practiced culture programmist, says. And yet the goodwill from the arthouse crowd and the public was at its nadir. There was no panel session, no drama performance, no symposium that was attended by less than 70 people. The Joy of Readings session had 120 attendees. The symposium on Courage in Journalism, featuring Premium Times founder Dapo Olorunyomi, entertained over 120 people, with people standing as chairs had to be ordered and the hall’s gliding doors kept open. When the Poet Niyi Osundare delivered the keynote address, he spoke to over 90 people.

Concerts Line Up In Prelude To Christmas
It’s clearly a concert season in Lagos, as the last 30 days to Christmas roll in. It was Step Up Naija and Highlife Renaissance yesterday, the one featuring Patoranking, Simi, Reminisce, Ycee Nand Others at Yard 158 Oregun, Ikeja, Lagos, while the other happened two bridges across town at the Intercontinental Hotel on Victoria Island, with the advertised line up including Onyeka Onwenu, Tolu Obey, Jesse King Buga, Wole Oni, Tosin Martins and Funke Akinokun. This column didn’t make the two events. Today, there’s Comedy Dinner with Slimbone, expected to feature Seyi Law, Stillringing, Whalemouth and others at the Genesis Cinema in Maryland. On December 3, Muson Centre will be presenting a Christmas Concert filled with sing along Christmas Carols from 6pm. At the Club with Remy Martin All Star is the theme of a December 7 show expected to feature Davido, Tiwa Savage, DJ Maphorisa and others at the Federal Palace from 10pm. One event to look out for is Afropolitan Vibes, a bimonthly concert led by Ade Bantu. Date is December 15-. Venue: Muri Okunola Park on Victoria Island.

Osundare’s Reading Tour Begins At the Quintessence
Nigeria’s Poet Laureate, Niyi Osundare, will be back in the country in mid-December for a reading tour of his latest collection of poems: If Only The Road Could Talk. The organisers, Committee For Relevant Art (CORA), have finalised a Saturday December 16 date with Quintessence, the book, art and craft shop in Parkview Ikoyi. CORA is also expecting response from Patabah Bookshop in Surulere and the Goethe Institut on Lagos Island. Osundare’s last reading tour of the country was with The Katrina Poems five years ago. This time, he has a small window: December 12 to 20, 2017. The 70-year-old wordsmith has 21 published collections of poems, two published plays, a book of Literary Essays and a collection of public discourse articles entitled Dialogue With My Country. The latest work: If Only The Road Could Talk is a collection of travel stories in verse and are poetic renditions of the poet’s observations of the cities he has travelled. An excerpt from Cairo, one of the 34 poems:
The city swirls
the skirt
of a dancing dervish

The stars are singing
The moon’s fingers rap the tambourine
to a talkative delight

Of the lotus which bats its eye
On the ledge of
A sprawling swamp
• Compiled by staff of Festac News Press Limited



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