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At 50, Didi Museum rolls out drums

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Uche Edochie (left), founder of Didi Museum, Chief Newton Jibunoh, Curator of Journey to Mastery Exhibition, Mrs. Ifeoma Dozie, her brother, Ceejay Jibunoh and Ayoola Gbolahan at a briefing to announce the golden jubilee celebration of Didi Museum in Lagos.

To celebrate its golden jubilee in art collections and preservation, Didi Museum will showcase some of Nigeria’s latest works.

Titled, The Journey to Mastery Exhibition, the show, which opens on April 18, will be on till April 27. It features Ayoola Gbolahan and Uche Edochie, while Mrs. Ifeoma Dozie and Ceejay Jibunoh, children of Chief Newton Jibunoh, the founder, are curators.

Speaking on the show, Chief Jibunoh relived the circumstances that brought about Didi Museum 50 years ago, saying the idea came up in England after his visit to London Museum.

He thanked the late Oba of Benin and Obi of Issele-uku, whose grand son, His Royal Majesty, Obi Agbogidi Nduka, will be the special guest at the event for their support in art collection.

While saying the museum came as a result of passion, he was happy that his children and grand children are sustaining it.

He noted that Didi Museum has successfully projected the Nigerian arts positively, as many people are beginning to appreciate art, which he remarked is not to be stored but should be part of people’s life.

Briefing newsmen on the exhibition, Mrs. Dozie said it is a celebration of the respective journeys in the collection and preservation of African art that spans over six decades and the journey of self-expression, engagement, discovery and poetic narration of two artistes over the years.

According to her, 22 works will be up for sale, 11 apiece from the two artists, while some works collected over 60 years will be showcased for the audience drawn from traditional institutions, corporates and international communities.

She stressed that it is only natural that Newton Jibunoh’ s children are curating the show as they were born and raised surrounded by arts.

She said: “Painting and sculpture were our tapestry, our visual stimuli, entertainment and stories.

“Growing up, Didi Museum was our home, artist were our friends and artists’ studios were our playground. Art has been part of our lives since our birth. It is in our DNA. One of the most vivid memories growing up was when Kenny Adamson painted ‘Portrait of Time’, an exquisite painting on the walls of our home. As I watched the story unfold, the colours, the vibrancy, his passion I was enthralled by the process, the narrative, the mastery and I felt alive.”

On the choice of the artists for he exhibition, she said, the path of Uche Edochie and Didi Museum are somewhat intertwined. Uche Edochie’s first encounter with Didi Musuem was in 1999 when he had a solo exhibition titled ‘Soul Stirrings’.

“Our path did not cross in 1999 but it did in 2005. In that year, I embarked on an ambitious art project for my company, which involved working with 12 artists to commission art pieces, paintings and sculptures that will be featured in the yearly calendar of our company. As though our paths were destined to meet, Uche was one of the 12 artists I worked with. The 12 submissions were an impressive collection by Uche. His painting was our hero piece. The skills, emotions evoked and the narrative were in a class of its own. Uche is not just a visual artist, he is a poet. It took me another 15 years to acquire a painting from Uche for a number of reasons. Uche took a hiatus from the art scene to pursue his other passions, but thankfully, he is back.

“For Ayoola, my first encounter with him was in 2005, the buzz, hype and excitement about The Blue woman series was omnipresent in that year. I heard about the series first before I saw it, so, I was quietly intrigued and keen to see him in person. When I first saw her, I was mesmerized. I felt deeply and I knew that she had to be part of my collection. It strikes a chord in me and reignited a familiar question I entertain with myself “ Are our roots an anchor or a shackle?”

Ayoola’s work has a piercing honesty that is deeply personal and refreshing. The Blue Woman series is bold, regal and her eyes speak volumes. To know the work is to know the artist, but to me, the artist is to live the work,” she said.


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