Fresh breathe of clay from ‘Yaba’ ceramists

ClayCeramic art is not exactly common on Lagos art space for the simple reason that its appreciation is more functional and utilitarian than aesthetics, compared to other non-applied art sub-genres.

But at Yusuf Grillo Gallery, Yaba College of Technology, Lagos, over 11 artists just refreshed the art landscape with Untapped Treasures by reminding followers of art that the soil, from which most creatures evolved remains a crucial part of creativity. In fact, the artists merged intellectual contents with functionality of the ceramic objects.

Widely rendered in aesthetics – even few that combine functionality – the works, despite being presented in poorly lit gallery environment, showed the resilience of pottery as one of the oldest form of art.

The lesson of the exhibition was to stress the importance of ceramic as a viable venture, even within the academic environment, Dr. (Mrs.) Grace Kokoeka Soyinka told guests during a visit to the show.

In one of the works on display, Transmutation, by Temitope Falayi, the value place on art in proper connection between man and its environment was stressed. In fact, the artist argued that “human life is incomplete without art.” Also Unity was of interest among his works, particularly in a country that is facing one of its most challenging ethno-religious period against the backdrop of politics.

Still on the connection between man and the environment, Benjamin Amano took the subject into the spiritual realm in the work he titled From the Rubbles. In its natural clay texture without glazing, the piece, according to Amano explains the spiritual ties between the much dreaded disaster such as earthquake, which is a thoughtful link to man’s origin from clay. On his non-glazing approach, he insisted that it makes the work retain its natural texture.

Another pottery of the artist titled Royalty, which was embellished with images of traditional chiefs stresses his skill in ceramic art. Also on display were Ewa (Beauty), by Ikeya Joseph; One Of A Kind and Bond by Pat Anthony Euba; From Void To Form by Adeleke Ogunleye; Drinking Water Set from Olowolabayaki Bolarinwa, Bonga Fish by Carol Igbinadolor and Out from the same mould by Soyinka.

Also on display were works of select students, an idea, which Soyinka explained as collective responsibility of “promoting our values, not a competition.” She noted how ceramic art is currently moving beyond what it used to be many years back. And providing the students opportunity to exhibit in the same space with art teachers, she argued, “is part of the process of preparing them for the challenges ahead.”

With Untapped Treasures, it appears like the SADP at Yabatech has strengthened its culture of showing works of students when art teachers exhibit. Quite a number of students, in the past have shown with teachers at the Yusuf Grillo Gallery.



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