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NGA partners foundation on indigenous building designs


Nmadili Okwumabua

Several decades after independence from colonial rule, Nigerian artists and architects are yet to develop modern indigenous building designs. Rather than innovative designs that reflect the Nigerian people’s culture and climate, foreign building designs and materials still dominate the sector.
It was in a bid to check this trend that the National Gallery of Arts (NGA) and the Community Planning and Designs Initiative Africa (CPDI) recently organised a one-day seminar for artists and architects. The seminar, which served to highlight the beauty as well as other positive implications of indigenous building designs to artists and architects, would culminate in the 2017 International CPDI Africa Artist Competition, Exhibition and Award Ceremony.
The competition, according to the founder of CPDI, Nmadili Okwumabua, would feature contemporary African designs that capture the true essence of the people’s culture and climate.
According to her, “This is a beginning towards a competition. We want to leave it open to artists’ imagination. They will come up with drawings and paintings that would be indigenous to Africa, Nigeria, and the best of the designs would be taken as prototypes that architects will work with subsequently in popularising African indigenous designs and aesthetics.”
Okwumabua envisaged an Africa that is portrayed through images and aesthetic arts and architecture sourced from any part of the continent to create new narratives on the African landscape. She also noted, “Join us as we bring together artists, designers and architects to explore in tandem and unlock the secretes of creating a new genre of African art and aesthetic.” She also stated that the project would define innovative landscape design aesthetics and promote pioneering works that would be the envy of art collectors all over the world.

In his remarks, the Director General, National Gallery of Art, Abdullahi Muku, stated that the theme of the programme, ‘Creating the True Art of Modern African Architecture’ complemented government’s intention to diversify the economy towards bringing the country out of its economic travails. He admitted that a lot has been learnt from the programme with regards to African designs and architecture.

According to him, the gathering was necessitated by the need for one to add value to life, adding, “Basically, we are here today because we want to increase knowledge. But beyond that, we want to add value to our existence by fostering good relationship so as to engender better understanding of our shades of differences.”  
Muku informed that the project was conceived when CPDI, in its eagerness to advance the creative frontiers of Nigerian artists, came up with a brilliant idea of infusing creative art dimensions into African architecture.  
“It is, therefore, a statement of pleasant fact that the UFUK Dialogue, an awareness and advocacy group, has agreed to partner us in this effort by agreeing to be our host and if indications are anything to go by, this synergy should serve as a platform for the realisation of better mutual benefits.
“The National Gallery of Art is ever ready to partner willing organisations like these foundations to forge a better understanding that will produce such cultural affinities as to encourage stronger bilateral ties. The National Gallery of Art is ever standing by to take advantage of platforms such as this in order to place our priorities to benefit those we are responsible for.”
Society for Nigerian Artists (SNA), Abuja Chapter, was represented at the event by its Chairman, Mr. Tochukwu Chude, who said the whole idea was to bring artists together to glean ideas shared by CPID, which would hopefully create a forum for artists to emerge with designs that would reflect Nigerian architecture. 
As he put it, “What we mean by Nigerian architecture is going back to our culture, transport what is in the culture and create contemporary buildings that reflect aspects and interests of Nigerian architecture both in designs and functionality. So, CPDI has made this forum available to us and we are very happy because it is coming at a time when culture is being taken seriously.”

On the relationship between fine art and architecture, Chude explained that fine art is represented in every discipline, including medicine. According to him, it was during Renaissance Italy that the distinction between architecture, fine art as well as fine and applied art evolved.
“Fine and applied art deals with creation of furniture, textile while fine art has to do with creating things that are not functional but have aesthetics and can be therapeutic to the mind of man.”
Architecture, he stated, has to do with the science of buildings, adding, “The nexus among them is that art is the foundation for all the sciences. So, the artist is supposed to sit down and look at his society with a view to identifying the aspect of it to adapt in his functional and aesthetic designs.”

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