Orisun Gallery promises a busy year as it hosts The Art of Friendship workshop
The year 2023 has no doubt, opened on a busy note for the Orisun Art Gallery, one of the major exhibition centres and art galleries in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.
Although the gallery has continued to attract art lovers from across the country, not only because of the amazing number of sophisticated art pieces it houses but also, the serene environment that distinguishes it from others, the Executive Director, Dr Adebola Adetunmbi, has however, promised more engaging moments at the gallery this year.
She spoke during the recently concluded one-week project sponsored by the Israeli Embassy. The collaboration was between two female artists, each from Israeli and Nigerian universities, respectively.
Adetunbi expressed delight that the gallery has become a hub for local and international artists, and was considered for collaboration.
She said: “It is not only that we sell artworks, Orisun Art Gallery is a creative hub and that is the reason we have been engaged in a lot of activities including exhibitions, drama nights, poetry and several other art-related events and programmes. This year, a lot is expected from Orisun Art Gallery”, assured.
Adding: “A lot of exhibitions will take place at the gallery. We are going to have quite a number of workshops and we hope to focus a lot more on upcoming and female artists. We also want to focus on the promotion of women’s art as a way to encourage talented young women and children by exposing them to a wider audience. There is a lot we have in offing this year”, Adetunmbi promised.
The Art of Friendship as a project was a collaboration between Israel and Nigerian artists to mark Israeli Embassy’s 30 years of friendship and very cordial relationship with Nigeria.
The idea behind the project was to bring very famous Israeli and Nigerian artists together to produce a masterpiece. The two artists – the Israeli Ella Amitay Sadovsky and Nigeria’s Dr Peju Layiwola, have spent over a week at the Orisun gallery, trying to merge the cultures of both countries and recreate the same in an artistic and iconic manner such that the art pieces will reflect the cultures of both countries in a way that their relationship has grown over the years.
To achieve this objective, each artist brings her techniques and style of art by using different artistic media and working together to reflect how Nigeria and Israel have grown in their relationship over the years.
Should there have been any reason for choosing only female artists for the project? Dr Adetunbi stated that it could be because women play tremendous roles in both cultures. Moreover, female artists were believed to be more succinct in recreating and expressing particular issues, putting together their experiences, their perceptions and views about life, in their works.
“So, because both artists are women, mothers, university lecturers and they teach arts, the choice was motivated by the similarities they share in their art forms. The theme of collaboration is also, something that shows the cordial relations between the two countries.
“Two countries may collaborate on projects but it is another thing entirely for them to be in friendship; and usually, a work of art is very beautiful and depicts that the relationship between both countries is beautiful and cordial.
For the Nigerian artist, Layiwola, the project captured the essence of the title, which is ‘friendship’ and what they were able to make out of it.
“The project is a collaboration between two artists, and it was an idea that came from the Israeli Ambassador and the wife to celebrate the friendship the country has established over the last 30 years with Nigeria. So, what better way is there to celebrate this friendship than the use of arts within a very beautiful gallery space.
“We are using the art as a platform for establishing diplomatic ties and friendship. We are two female artists, indicating that women are given a voice, their works are shown to the world. It is important that this is happening across cultures, across countries”, Layiwola said.
She added that she was collaborating on the same piece of work and platform with the Israeli’s Sadovsky.
“She is working on things about Nigeria while I am working on the cultures, monuments and relics of Israel, which are also very rich.”
The professor noted that both countries have a shared history of colonialism even though it was longer for Israel and that for her, the project was a very wonderful opportunity to share ideas, techniques and production.
“We also talk about our lives as women and mothers, as artists and representing a lot of things that have double imagery about Israel and Nigeria, like the Western Wall, a wall that is peculiar to Israel. We have something similar in Benin City. We also have the Kibut in Israel, which is a communal life. It is a community where people live in Israel and are bound by agriculture. We also have the concept of Agbole in Nigeria among Yoruba culture, where you have the family, the clan, and the compound which creates space and identity for the people.
“All of these come to play in my works. I also depict olives which are very important, palm oil and palm trees. I have these double imageries that debit both Nigeria and Israel. They speak further about how similar our cultures are and the fact that we are connected in this world, and I believe this project connects us even further.”
The Israeli artist worked with textiles while Layiwola worked with metals. Although she also works with textiles but she decided to settle with metals in the project. The artists work with different media, which contrasts but at the same time, harmonize because of the concept.
The two artworks that would be produced at the end of the collaboration would be auctioned and the proceed donated to charity.