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The art of the matter

By Anita Kouassigan
08 November 2019   |   3:02 am
The 4th edition of Art X, West Africa’s Premier International Art Fair, took place in Lagos last weekend and, indeed, those passionate about art were delighted to witness the scale of talented artists curated at the three-day event.

Trustee, Tim Cooke, viewing the paintings

The 4th edition of Art X, West Africa’s Premier International Art Fair, took place in Lagos last weekend and, indeed, those passionate about art were delighted to witness the scale of talented artists curated at the three-day event. For some art lovers though, passions can run even deeper, to the point of using art to raise funds to benefit social causes such as education and to empower societies. The month of October is the art season in London, and here we present two meaningful art auction fundraiser events that took place in the UK’s capital.

Oo October 2, 2019, Save the Children’s Africa Advisory Board hosted an exclusive preview of the Modern & Contemporary African Art at their charity auction in partnership with Bonhams and DJ Cuppy in aid of the organisation’s Global Malnutrition Initiative, which is leading the way in changing how malnutrition is prevented, diagnosed and treated. 

The fundraiser event afforded Save The Children (STC) the opportunity to showcase their work in Africa and, in particular, their efforts to combat malnutrition. As expressed by STC’s CEO, Kevin Watkins, “there is one universal language – and that is the cry of a hungry child.” 

At the core of STC’s mission is the commitment to ensure that children survive. Over the course of the next five years, STC will test new approaches for treating and preventing malnutrition in some of the most difficult places to be a child with this approach being piloted in the Turkana region of Kenya, Somalia, and Yemen – fragile states where hunger is on the rise and costing the lives of thousands of children every day – and they are aiming to raise £20 million over the next three years. The organisation also proudly announced and recognised Sir Mo Farah as Patron of the initiative.
Save the Children fights for children every single day and aims to “do whatever it takes to make sure they survive, get protection when they’re in danger, and have the chance to learn. Because every child should be able to make their mark on their world and help to build a better future for us all.” If anyone would like to support their work or wishes to explore how they might help, they can get in touch with Save the Children’s philanthropy team at:

Auctioneer Chukwudi Onwudiwe<br />

Exactly one week later, on Wednesday, October 9, 2019, The British Nigeria Educational Trust (BNET) hosted an event: Art Not Aid: Nigerian Artists Supporting Education at the Tarkett-Desso Showroom, 23-25 Great Sutton Street, Clerkenwell, London EC1V 0DN. It was held in collaboration with Chukwudi Onwudiwe of Chuck Gallery Manchester, who approached BNET with the idea of having a fundraising auction where funds raised from the sales of paintings by contemporary Nigerian artists would be shared with BNET, specifically to support BNET’s educational projects in Nigeria. Tarkett-Desso sponsored the event by providing the venue, and Alhaji Hassan Tukur, Mocoh Oil & Gas and Mahmud Tukur generously sponsored the auction. One of the major artists exhibited on the night, celebrated Nigerian artist, Nelson Okoh, wrote a statement of support that was read out on the night by BNET Trustee, Mr Bayo Oladimeji. 

With over 100 attendees at the event, including Mr Bim Babarinde of the Nigerian Schools Foundation UK; Dr Boma Douglas, Chair of CANUK (Central Association of Nigerians in the UK); Vaughan Meltzer, the artist who designed one of BNET’s Christmas cards; Amanda Mukwashi, the CEO of Christian Aid; Juwon Ogungbe the musician, Ms Rose Yakowa, representing the Nigeria High Commission and Joy Sigaud, Editor of Black History Month, the organisers exceeded their target of £20,000. This was the total sales proceeds from 30 paintings by 14 artists.

The best-selling artist on the night was Abayomi Sokenu, accounting for 19 per cent of the sales, followed by Okey Ibeabuchi who sold 18 per cent. Paintings by Nelson Okoh paintings (Introversion II, Unilateralism and Nigerian Rain) were also successfully auctioned off, as well as Land of Beauty, a painting by Ovie 1st Kings Iruru, which fetched over £2,000.

All the funds received by BNET from this event will go towards continuing BNET’s educational projects in Nigeria. As a charitable organisation, their mission is “to promote partnerships that advance educational opportunities for young people in Nigeria.” Their objectives include supporting the training and development of teachers in Nigeria, funding ongoing educational projects and providing small grants to applications that have no administrative requirements or long-term commitments.

BNET’s projects range from sponsoring 37 teachers a year on the distance learning programme at the National Teachers’ Institute, the provision of boreholes to government schools for badly needed water supplies, supplying furniture, books, and Kindles to schools and sponsoring visiting University Fellows. Specific examples include the building of an e-library at the University of Benin and establishing the Immaculate Conception Girls’ Boarding School in Umutu, Delta State – a joint project with the Catholic Diocese of Warri.

Since its inception in 2014, BNET has also supported an after-hours school in Agbado, Lagos, a volunteer-run hub providing educational materials, games and IT technology/e-learning for primary school children. BNET has also funded a permanent hub, solar panel installation and reading tablets and books.

BNET’s primary aim is to provide balanced support across the country. If you would like to learn more about ways to support, kindly contact: