A renowned artist who was born in Britain and raised in Nigeria has announced plans for a programme to get painters, sculptors and other creatives living and working together in the West African nation’s commercial capital Lagos.
Yinka Shonibare , a Turner Prize nominee whose giant ‘Nelson’s Ship in a Bottle’ work stood on a plinth in London’s Trafalgar Square – said he wanted artists from around the world to apply for the first places in the residency scheme, which is due to start in 2021.
Under the scheme, four groups of three artists will spend three months every year based at sites in Lagos and on a 30-acre farm in Ijebu town 100 km (62 miles) away. Construction work had started on the sites, Shonibare said.
“It’s absolutely important that Africans can be, you know, experienced, engaged with on the continent, so it’s important that African culture is probably understood in the context of Africa, and that people actually come here to learn,” Shonibare said on Saturday , at the launch of his Guest, Artist, Space Foundation that will run the project and help fund African participants.
Experts say there has been a surge in global interest in African art over the last decade.
They say much of the rising interest was driven by investors who see African art as “a market where growth can be achieved”.
They also say Nigeria and South Africa dominate the African art market, but collectors also show a great deal of interest in works from Kenya, Angola, Morocco and Senegal.
The launch of Shonibare’s programme coincided with ART-X, an annual art fair held in the city over the weekend, which attracts artists from across Africa.
“It’s clear now that for a number of complex reasons we are now beginning to have the voices, the amazing voices of African artists been brought into the conversation. Look, we have to be clear. It’s long overdue, it was almost negligent,” said Abiodun Odedina, a Nigerian figurative artist whose work was on sale at the fair.
“I wanted the average everyday individual who may not immediately come into contact with art in their day-to-day experiences to hear about ART-X Lagos, and to be intrigued by ART-X Lagos, and when you start to do that kind of thing you are almost like marketing the sector, you almost marketing the visual art as an important, very important part and contributor to the creative economy,” added Tokini Peterside, the founder of ART-X.”
ART-X is already increasing exposure, I think that many international people come here and that’s bound to be great for African art. There are many galleries that come from many different African countries, people can come from different parts of the world and experience that in one space,” said Shonibare