The Wole Soyinka International Cultural Exchange (WSICE) has created opportunities for children with special skills to express themselves through cultural drawings and paintings.
WSICE made this public during the unveiling of an art gallery in Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital, as part of the activities marking Wole Soyinka’s 89th birthday.
The art gallery studio showcases works of local and international artists who are poised to promote the rich cultural heritage of Nigeria and Africa as a whole.
PREMIUM TIMES’ correspondent learnt that the cultural gallery houses about 84 visual artworks by various primary and secondary school pupils nationwide.
While addressing pupils from different primary and secondary schools who attended the event, the Producer of this year’s Wole Soyinka International Cultural Exchange, Joy Nweye, said that the gallery was the artistry part of the WSICE.
At the event, which was held in Omida, Abeokuta, capital of Ogun state, she added that aside from international contributors, the works at the gallery comprise works received from pupils at previous events where school children displayed their artistic skills.
Ms Nweye noted that the event is targeted at developing the artistic abilities of the younger ones.
She said the primary motive is to make children know that they can communicate and pass powerful messages across through drawings, paintings, and sculptures, among other channels.
“We compiled those works to unveil the gallery. The majority of what you see here are from students who participated in WSICE events years ago.”
She explained that the main idea behind the Wole Soyinka art gallery was to explore the visual artistry embedded in school children.
The main idea, she added, is the unification of the visual artistry embedded in individuals from different backgrounds, national and international, to express themselves using works of art.
“Each artwork means something. They mean different things to different people, depending on your mindset, geographical location and others. These artworks speak something to you, and compiling them artistically in a gallery speaks volumes,” she added.
A lecturer of Theatre Arts at the University of Ibadan, Tunde Awosanmi, said a gallery signifies, symbolically, the memory bank of a nation.
The lecturer regretted that the government lacks the political will to institute the consciousness of a gallery in the sense of its memory bank.
He said budgetary allocation for art and culture in the annual budget is always meagre and asked the government to do more to promote art and culture.
Mr Awosanmi, who was Mr Soyinka’s Personal Assistant until 2010, maintained that there are specialised galleries worldwide.
He also clarified that the Mr Soyinka gallery “is distinct because it is dedicated to children,” with 95 per cent of the artworks produced by secondary school children.
He said the project was tied to Soyinka’s life vision adding, “whose weakest point is his love for children.”
Gabriel Emmanuel, a German artist, on the other hand, said besides the gallery, the cultural programme would morph from just essay writing to displaying artworks.
Mr Emmanuel disclosed that the WSICE focuses on education and developing talents in children.
“So many children have talents in painting and drawing. That’s what we are encouraging; that’s why we are inviting different schools and children to let them see what artists do, to let them feel their works and to spark their interest in creating artwork.
“I want children to be bold, brave and embrace that certain talent they have within themselves. We are going to support them, encourage them to bring their talents out,” the German explained.
Support PREMIUM TIMES’ journalism of integrity and credibility
Good journalism costs a lot of money. Yet only good journalism can ensure the possibility of a good society, an accountable democracy, and a transparent government.
For continued free access to the best investigative journalism in the country we ask you to consider making a modest support to this noble endeavour.
By contributing to PREMIUM TIMES, you are helping to sustain a journalism of relevance and ensuring it remains free and available to all.
TEXT AD: Call Willie – +2348098788999