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LIMCAF, a celebration of youths creativity

By Gregory Austin Nwakunor
05 December 2021   |   3:01 am
After last year’s hiatus as a result of the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, which completely upended museums, galleries and other cultural institutions as a large number of them shut out

Godfrey Godstime Uche’s How We Roll

How Festival Beat COVID-19 In 2021

After last year’s hiatus as a result of the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, which completely upended museums, galleries and other cultural institutions as a large number of them shut out, Life in My City Art Festival (LIMCAF) staged a comeback this year. However, it was forced to completely alter its operations and completely transition to an online event.

LIMCAF is a non-profit yearly competitive event in the visual arts, which began in 2007, to encourage and empower young Nigerian artists under the age of 35. It is organised by a Board of Trustees headed by Elder K. U. Kalu CON with His Royal Majesty, Nnaemeka Achebe, OFR, Obi of Onitsha and Emeritus Professor El Anatsui as its patrons.

In 2019, entries for the nationwide yearly event hit an all-time high since 2010 when it introduced an entry fee. That year had a total of 507, an increase of 21 per cent over the 2018 edition.

Also, the spread of entries was the highest ever coming from 24 states of the federation including, Sokoto and Bauchi with Akure and Zaria now enlisted as collation and zonal centres, because of the number of entries from there and nearby states. The highest number of entries came from Lagos, Enugu, Edo and Ondo states.

The creation of zones has to do with entries within a given area and logistics involved in the first level exhibition at the designated zones.

Themed, Vision 2020: So Far So What, this year had over 550 entries making it into the first round of the competition from across the country through the nine centres in various parts of the country including, Lagos, Abuja, Ibadan, Benin, Uyo, Port Harcourt, Zaria, Ondo and of course, Enugu.

This year’s LIMCAF exhibition opened online and in-person on November 15 at the Institute of Management and Technology (IMT), Enugu and ended with an in-person, digitally streamed Awards night on November 20.

The national jury was headed by Dr. Chijioke Onuora, the University of Nigeria, Nsukka drawing, sculpture and art history lecturer who had served LIMCAF in the past in various capacities.

Other jury members include, Professor Nnenna Okore, who obtained a BA in Painting from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, and both an MA and MFA from the University of Iowa, USA; Duniya Giles Gambo, a researcher on diverse aspects of contemporary Art practices and is currently Professor of Art History and Criticism, at the Ahmadu Bello University; Kpodoh Michael, a versatile artist, who works in diverse media and Sor Sen, who earned an MFA in Painting from Nigeria’s premier art school, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria.

While commending members of the board of trustees for their personal sacrifice, persistent and unrelenting hard work, which created what must now be acknowledged as the biggest and most impactful art event in Nigeria today, Elder K. Uke Kalu said: “The significant milestone of this 2021 edition is that for the first time since LIMCAF began, most of the processes that went into selecting the top 100 works in the exhibition show held online.”

He said that the other aspect worthy of note was that only 25 out of the 100 producers of the works on display were around.

According to him, “The 25 owners of the works are those most likely to win prizes and have been sponsored to Enugu by LIMCAF.”

He said, “it is our hope that they will see this as part of the great sacrifice, which is at the core of the festival to help them and others, whose works may win other prizes or whose works are sold, as an effort to advance their careers as artists.”

In his goodwill message, the festival’s patron, Emeritus Professor El Anatsui, said, “it is commendable that LIMCAF is now the longest running and most consistent art event in Nigeria as of today. I am told that there were well over 500 entries from young Nigerian artists this year a clear sign of a steady growth of the festival from those early days not only in numbers but also in the quality of entries and the thoroughness and strict adherence to the rules by the organisers.”

He said the festival has truly occupied a commendable leadership position in the development of art in Nigeria. Many of the past winners are now renowned professionals who are making impact internationally.

“It is for this reason that I am resolved to continue my humble support of the Festival as one of its honorary patrons in every way I can in the hope that in the future the festival will become famous internationally and those emerging through it will help to make Africa proud on the world art stage.”

While congratulating those who have qualified for the grand finale exhibition, and also, the eventual winners of the prizes available, he hoped “they will find the opportunity given by LIMCAF a valuable springboard for a productive professional career.”

According to Dr. Ayo Adewunmi, Art Director, LIMCAF, “Some 550 entries were received between March 2020 and May 2021. However, out of these only 100 entries made it to the 2021 grand finale exhibition from Lagos, Ibadan, Ondo, Zaria, Abuja, Port Harcourt, Owerri, Uyo and Enugu regions.”

He said, “the best 25, as adjudged by the national jury, that is the artists nowhere, who produced the top 25, will win actual cash prizes in the various categories, ranging from consolation prizes to specially endowed prizes to the top six, we call the LIMCAF Prizes.”

He added: “The top six winners of today qualify automatically for sponsorship to Dark’Art in Dakar, Senegal in May 2022, courtesy of an all-expenses-paid sponsorship by our patron, Emeritus Professor El Anatsui. You heard from him earlier. He has assured us that the six of today six that will join the 12 others outstanding from the 2018 and 2019 Festivals.

“They are outstanding because Dak’Art is a Biennale and holds every two years whereas LIMCAF holds yearly. And because of COVID-19, neither LIMCAF nor Dak’Art was held last year.

“Eighteen young Nigerians from all over the country – North, South, East and West purely on merit, – 18 – in addition to whatever prizes they win today or had won in the past editions of LIMCAF, will be given international exposure to advance their careers courtesy of LIMCAF.”

At the end, Okoronta Chichetam John’s Smudged Vision (81cm X 81cm, charcoal on paper was declared the overall winner. Segun Victor Owolabi’s Resilience (Thread and nails) won the best sculpture/installation prize.

Also among the winners were Adewuyi Olusola Samson Arojinle (Deep thought), Terracotta 6x2Ft, which got the best ceramics prize; Enyi Paul David, Safety, (Graphics design art 60.9×60.96cm) got Best Graphics/Digital Art; Godfrey Godstime Uche’s How We Roll (Photography print on wood board 24×24 inches) won the Best Photography/Video.

John Motorola Elizabeth’s The Chronicle (Thread onboard Textile art 90x150cm) was the best in Textile/Fashion; Ejiofor Samson, Played (Wood 182.88×121.92cm) got Justice Aniagolu Prize for Originality while Ismaila Jimoh Odera, Ozi ema Apapa na nahe eza (As you sow, so shall you reap), Flat metal bar and bottle covers, 50x70cm won the Pius Okigbo Prize for Technical Proficiency.

This year, LIMCAF partnered HITCH to empower young artists and make arts education accessible to underserved Nigerian students.

HITCH is a Nigerian-Canadian educational platform for applied learning, targeting underserved students and teachers in Africa. The core resource that it provides is a curated library of world-class educational videos for students and teachers across different subjects and grades, aligned to local curriculums, textbooks, and exams.

“LIMCAF’s mission is to position art for social development through youth empowerment. Through this strategic partnership with HITCH, LIMCAF will encourage and promote art education, accelerating exposure for the young artists it seeks to empower,” said Kevin Ejiofor, Executive Director, LIMCAF.

Uche Onuora, Cofounder and Chief Executive Officer, HITCH, said, “this partnership is driven by our mission at HITCH to apply impactful technology to address severe education inequality.”

In the 2021 competition, HITCH offered additional prizes of up to 250,000 Naira to 10 select artists out of the top 100 submissions.

The selected artists alongside their artworks will be spotlighted in an arts education series to be featured in HITCH’s digital video library and educational resources.

“In building our educational video library, we’ve noticed that while Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) subjects have had an overwhelming variety of universally-applicable content, a yawning and largely overlooked chasm exists in the Creative Arts, with little to no content covering the history, culture, and development of past or contemporary Art in Nigeria.”