15 June 2018, Sweetcrude, Port Harcourt — A total of 32 students from the University of Port Harcourt and the Ignatius Ajuru University of Education, had the opportunity to exhibit their artworks in Total’s 2018 Art Exhibition, organised by Total Exploration and Production Nigeria Limited.
The exhibition which lasted for two days in Port Harcourt had students of the department of fine and applied arts from the two universities, exhibiting their artworks such as sculptures, textile fabrics, graphics, ceramics, canvass painting, pen drawing, iron works, photo art etc.
Speaking on the sideline of the exhibition, Total’s Deputy General Manager, Public Affairs and Communication, Port Harcourt District, Mr. Onyekachi Omenuko, explained that the aim of the exhibition is to encourage, promote and celebrate young Nigerian talents.
Omenuko said Total will continue to show commitment to developing young people, Promote artistic works of young Nigerians in crafts, painting, textiles etc and create awareness of the rich Nigerian culture and its diversity.
“For Total, the idea actually came from the management. What we just did is to present a platform for them to expose their work and to give them the needed support.
“Art is a reflection of life and these students have used non-conventional things like plastics, paper, cork etc, to reflect life. Basically, this is an experimental thing, this is the first time we are bringing the young people to do an art exhibition.”
Also speaking, Dr. Charles Omuaru, of the Fine and Applied Arts Department, Ignatius Ajuru University of Education, regretted that most Nigerians do not appreciate arts, but ignorantly attach superstitious beliefs to every piece of sculpture.
Omuaru said poverty was also a setback to art appreciation in the country, explaining that an average Nigerian struggling to make a living would see it as a big deal to spend N10,000 to N20,000 on a piece of artwork.
“Art is aesthetic, artistic and productive and is capable of generating millions of employment.
“The preference given to science should also be given to art. I will continue to tell the government that art is important, art is the bedrock of every development, hence infrastructure should be put in place to aide the study of art.”
For the exhibitors, Miss Orike Vera, a 400 level student from Fine Arts Depart of the Ignatius Ajuru University of Education, who exhibited textile fabrics designed with batik, said the study of art is expensive, hence government should provide grant and loans to the student.
“The study of art is very expensive, some students quit along the way because of the financial burden. I want companies, government and well-meaning individuals to sponsor students to study art. Materials for artwork are very expensive, for instance, frames for a finished work is about N20,000.
Corroborating, Mr. Godstime Godfrey, a Fine Artist from Uniport, called for the establishment of art galleries and museums to aide young art graduates, as well as a provision of adequate equipment in universities to aide the learning of art.
“This kind of exhibition is rare, I think Total and other companies should make this kind of exhibition more often.”
While Mr. Edward Dike, a 400level student from Fine and Applied Arts department, IAUE, said more students should be encouraged to study arts, as art is not just about drawing and painting, but its usefulness cut across every facet of life.
Dike explained that art collection was also a profitable business because artworks appreciate in value over a period of time.