Children Art Gallery, a last mile for art, creativity
The Children’s Art Gallery (TCAG) located in Victoria Island, Lagos is at the forefront of promoting children art globally. The founders, Phoebe Giffey-Brohaugh and Segun Oni, disclosed that the gallery would focus on the discovering, exhibiting and selling of children’s artworks.
Speaking with The Guardian, Giffey-Brohaugh said, ‘Initially, they were not sure the venture will be a success till they opened to the public and were overwhelmed by the number of talented children that came forward with art, and collectors began to purchase pieces. We are now looking forward to expanding our space, running a virtual academy with a group of artists, art mentors and teachers, who coach and guide the children.
“Currently, our youngest artist is seven years old, while the oldest is 17. We could work with children as young as three years old.”
Disclosing that the primary goal of the gallery is to discover and hone the talents of the children and showcase them to the world, she said: “There are so many creative and talented children needing guidance about the basics of art – such as how to properly hold a paintbrush and thankfully, there are many talented artists out there willing to guide them. There is a rawness and uninhibitedness with children, they are able to freely create, compared to adults who are much concerned about what people think of their work.”
The talented artist said “I met Mr. Oni in mid-2022 and told him about my journey. I used to work in non-profit organisation and after COVID; I decided to get back to my first love — art!
“Oni then told me about how his son, who was then six years old, wanted to sell some of his artwork and he was considering opening an art gallery for him to exhibit his artwork. His initial pieces sold privately for a few thousands. We noticed that there was a lot of interest, and that was how talk of opening a full-scale children’s gallery came to us.”
Adding that her love for art started when she was around 10 years, she revealed that art was a way to express herself then. She said when she was 15, she thought of exhibiting her works, but there was no provision for that and at 18, she abandoned the idea, believing that she was not meant to do art.
“I had a privileged upbringing and access to art supplies and a teacher. What about kids that have access to none of these things? There are so many talented children out there who would see this as a blessing and avenue for therapy and to make money for themselves and their families.”
Speaking at the gallery, Oni said he had always wanted to provide a platform for his 7-year-old son to showcase his artworks. According to him, the boy started painting at the age of six. Seeing his son’s artwork laying idle, Oni began to think of how to encourage his son.
“With proper presentation, I knew we could sell these artworks to collectors and I set out to do just that. We started to encourage applications from artists in underserved communities because we know talent can be found anywhere.
We saw many incredible talents in Lagos and in other states too. Now, we want to expand internationally and be the last mile for the finest art made by children, and a unifying platform to showcase this to the world.
“We have been under a lot of pressure by parents to start coaching and teaching children, which is why we are doing virtual classes, but we want to remain heavily focused on being a gallery to display and sell artworks. Like most galleries, we take a small commission, but we ensure that the artist gets most of the money. We don’t even give the money to their parents. We put it in an investment account for the child’s healthcare, education and art supplies.”
Phoebe noted that in the last few months, they have been advocating for children’s creative voices. “For children with disabilities in particular, this is an avenue for them to express themselves outside of education where they may not always excel. We have kids from traumatic backgrounds coming to share their experiences here and express themselves through their art. We believe that art is necessary for good childhood development, especially in the first few years of their lives. I am proud that this started in Lagos and will give us a strong foothold in the fine art/retail art sector. I would love to see TCAG host exhibitions all over the world, and have network of virtual art lessons where a teacher from Nigeria would teach children in the USA art.”
Demonstrating the intersection of Technology and Art, The gallery uses state-of-the-art technology, developed in-house to engage their audience in an exclusive way. Firstly, the gallery uses an organised online booking system to schedule tours and gallery visits. Gallery visitors can also use ArtActive – a QR code present on all artwork at the gallery that connects the audience to the artist when having a self-guided tour of the gallery.
The gallery has gained global acclaim evidenced by the recent visit by the WHO delegation who visited the gallery as part of the recently held ArtinHealth week. The WHO expressed their admiration for the inclusivity of the gallery in displaying works from children with autism, down syndrome and other neuro diverse conditions, and the gallery’s Art Wellness initiative.
To book a gallery tour, go to their website on www.tcagallery.com