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Bank lifts creative industry with anniversary show


Michael Larbie

In commemoration of its five years of doing business in Nigeria, Rand Merchant Bank (RMB) Nigeria, a subsidiary of South Africa’s FirstRand Bank Limited, recently held an art show. It had renowned and upcoming artists showcasing their works to an appreciative audience. The event, which ran for two days, was held at Oriental Hotel, Victoria Island, Lagos, and had top executives of the bank as well as customers, representatives of various financial institutions, musicians, and artists in attendance.

While welcoming guests, the bank’s CEO and Regional Head, West Africa, Mr. Michael Larbie, stated that the purpose of the art exhibition was to restate the organisation’s commitment to improving the Nigerian art industry through raising raw talents and getting established ones to showcase their works to the public to improve the industry.

“Rand Merchant Bank celebrates and rewards exceptional talents, inspired by our 35-year old business philosophy of traditional values and innovative ideas,” said Larbie. “RMB’s focused art patronage reinforces this conviction, which is why we are particularly pleased to support the creative industry in Nigeria. Our brand alignment with creative and intellectual excellence presents the opportunity for the “art of business” to embrace the “business of art”, thus assisting and freeing up extraordinary talent to perform.”


Larbie also assured of the bank’s continuing support for the Nigerian creative industry as he promised that the art exhibition would be a usual programme during the subsequent commemoration.

He added, “I want to assure you all that RMB is committed to ensuring that we not only focus on business but provide some humanitarian act to the society. And one of the ways we hope to achieve this is by organising similar art exhibitions every year so as to enable these creative minds showcase their dexterity and get their deserved acknowledgements.”

Similarly, curator of the exhibition, Oyindamola Fekeye explained that she pushed for the exhibition so as to provide a rare opportunity for talented young artists to display their works to audience who are influential, adding, “The purpose for having this exhibition is to give the younger artists a rare platform to display their talents to the international audience, thereby giving them some sort of exposure and connection. This will also make them confident of their works. So I hope that they see this event as a stepping stone in their career.”

On the requirements for selecting the exhibitors, Fekeye said, “These artists, especially the popular ones, are some of the best in the industry. We have top artists like Uchay Joel Chima and Kelani Abass and these people are known for their breath-taking art works. The emerging artists among them are those I have been monitoring for some time now. They are not new in the business only that they are not known in Nigeria yet. I see their works on social media and they are really wonderful. Therefore, it was not tough for me to select them because I was sure that they would bring the best of their talents on display today. This is not to mean that there are no better ones outside, but for me, these are my choices.”

One of the participating exhibitors, Olarinde Ayanfeoluwa explained how elated she was to see her work appreciated by the audience, with the hope she would be encouraged to do more.


She said, “I am so happy today for the wonderful reception accorded me and my art works. It is absolutely unbelievable. I therefore thank RMB for this wonderful opportunity and believes that this will serve as a catalyst to spur me to do greater things.”

Also, Akin Aluko spoke on his three artworks, which he titled ‘Strength in despair,’ ‘Sojourn’ and ‘Shopping spree.’

According to him, “’Strength in despair’ is a unique artwork, of a lady who is in the middle of despair and hope. I removed one eye in order to mean despair while the other eye, which is wide open and looking ahead, depicts strength and hope. The lady, though shattered by despondency, still garners strength within her and hopes that things would get better. She is focused amidst the discouragement from her internal and external forces.”

Aluko also spoke on the challenges he faces in his career, noting, “One of my greatest challenges is motivation. Most people do not appreciate our work and lack of infrastructure also contributes to this issue.

However, what has kept me going is my passion and it has helped me to overcome some fears and challenges in the few years I have been practicing.”

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