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Yabatech paves way for young artists

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There were frames, bags, weaving, throw-pillows made from fabrics and ceramic flower-vases. Like a fabric-cum interior décor fair, a huge array of printed fabrics and home décor made from prints and ceramics greeted guests as they walked into the Yusuf Grillo Art Gallery, Yaba College of Technology (YABATECH).

Over 100 works on display greeted visitors as they were ushered into the exhibition hall by some students from the School of Art, Design and Printing.

The students were part of the exhibition organised by the Department of Industrial Design for its graduating students.

The exhibition, which is in its second edition, featured 26 students of the 2019/2020 session.

For the participating students, the exhibition was not an opportunity of a lifetime, but meant as a tool for art appreciation lessons. They were so elated and full of life. Indeed their works were outstanding, but the works of 23-year-old Favour Dominion Industrial Design (ceramist) and Millicent Ajulo Industrial Design (Textile) caught the eyes of guests. Dominion exhibited over 100 ceramic works produced by hands and machine using different techniques such as coiling, pinching, and throwing and slap techniques which are both executed using clay to form whatever shape you want to achieve. His works were grouped into greased, painted and sprayed ware. They included six end tables, kitchen utensils, decorative pieces and vases of all kinds.

“I did research and found out that people see clay works as unfinished work or a fetish object. I decided to convince people that clay works are not fetish works, they can be used as part of your interior use, people can see beauty and pure art in clay works.

“I decided to use an auto base spray of the clay works to bring out the beauty and finish work in these clay works (end table). End table is a table where you can rest your drinks while eating or resting on your chair. It’s not a dining table or your usual type of table; it’s just a table where you can rest,” he said.

Like him, Ajulo’s works were also unique. Besides her exhibits tie and dye and batik used as decorative pieces, her star work, Igarra Ikat fabric (Itowoji), which is etched in Igarra oral and cloth-making tradition, is truly outstanding. She is out to create contemporary versions of the fabrics and its uses, with a mind of rising demand and production.

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“I decided to explore the use of the Itowoji fabric, to impact knowledge where it relates to the subject area of study and challenge the upcoming textile designers/weavers to be innovative by developing modern functions and fashionable applications of traditional woven fabrics other than cultural clothing attire. I believe that if there are variations of newer designs, raw materials, as well as other tools for the development of Igarra Ikat fabric, it will cause a rise in demand and production and promote the cultural heritage. It further suggests a source of sustainable livelihood and income generation.”

Head of Department, Dr. Grace Soyinka, stated that the exhibition was a deliberate move to display their talents to the world, while calling support from government and corporate bodies for graduates with potentials of becoming employers, such as theirs. “We started last year and we have improved in numbers of students and in terms of works produced. We are proud of the fact that these students are prepared to be self-employed. As you can see the students have perfected their crafts. I mean if their talents are properly harnessed by the government and corporate bodies, they can also employ a lot more young ones like them – thereby reducing the unemployment in the country.

“Indeed, Nigeria has lots of talented youths. In fact its higher institutions, the YABATECH School of Art, and our department in particular, is graduating a lot of talented and self-employed young ones. More needs to be done to ensure that their skills and energy is put to good use for the good of all. The 26 graduating students from Textile and Ceramics were told to exhibit a minimum of five and maximum of ten works each done over the course of their study, else they would have showcased much more,” she said.

The Dean of the School of Art, Pius Egiolamhe, the exhibits’ motifs were focused on “the African narratives” and “determination against the odds”. And although the school lost almost the whole session to COVID-19 pandemic, he stated that the lecturers gave it their all to ensure students didn’t miss much.

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“It feels good to know that our students are ready and prepared to face the world. And we wish them the best as they follow their dreams.

“I appreciate the lecturers for their competency while enabling them to train and produce these quality students. I praise the Head of Department for her efforts as well as the lecturers for their accomplishment. I think what we have to our own advantage is the passion and the quality of lecturers we have within the school of Art, Most of them were trained here and they keep the quality and also impact it to the new generations.”

For Dr. Hakim Bolaji Adeyemi, a textile design lecturer, who curated the exhibition alongside Mrs. Ngozi Nwade from the same department, “It was deliberate on our part to take our students into the traditional Adire Eleko modernising the symbols, concept, stamps and the batiks with proper motives. Our goal is to make them employers of labour and internationally acclaimed artists. We’ve trained them in a way that their design cannot be easily identified by the public: they are trained to follow market trends and even create their own trends with a unique choice of colour to create a difference from what we have in the market. We trained them in African style using any of the West Africa, Nigerian symbols in the assigned textile designing motifs using any choosing repeat pattern. And we are proud of how they have turned out.”

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