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Bunmi Babatunde is a native of Ile-Ife, Osun State, Nigeria, he was born on March 1, 1957. His talent became noticeable while in Primary Five. A photographer took a poor shot of a portrait, which Bunmi's stepmother angrily threw away. The right arm of the character was totally removed from the picture despite the white wide margin around the borders. Bunmi picked up the picture and added the lost arm in a sketch to the excitement of all. 

He studied in the Yaba College of Technology where he bagged the National Diploma in General Art and Higher National Diploma in Sculpture in 1981 and 1983 respectively. 

Immediately after his youth service at the Department of Culture, National Theatre in 1983, he assumed full-time professional practice at the then National Studios of the National Gallery of Art, National Theatre, and he has remained in active studio practice for 27 years. 

In 2003, he was one of 65 leaders selected from 35 developing countries all over the world for Advanced Leadership Training Course of the Haggai Institute in Singapore. 

Having participated in over 25 exhibitions at home and abroad, Babatunde has produced works for both public and private consumption. One of his out-door sculptures is the 20-foot Eleganza 'Biro Statue' along Orile/Mile 2 expressway, Suru, Alaba, Lagos. 

Babatunde's professional stature received a boost when he was invited by the Nanjing Normal University, China as a guest lecturer in December 2007. He was invited as a specialist to teach sculpture major students. 

The end of the three-week teaching programme was so impacting that the local council of the Communist Party and the University Authorities issued to him Certificates of Recognition and Virtuoso Performance respectively. 

Bunmi has executed several projects for the Lagos State Government. Some of these are: the M.K.O. Abiola Statue at the M.K.O. Abiola Garden, Ojota, Mosaic Works at Badore Jetty of the Lagos State Government, Relief Sculpture at Badore Jetty, amongst others. 

Numerous works of his creative concepts and commissions for corporate bodies and individuals he has competently handled.  

Babatunde belongs to the Society of Nigerian Artists, the Umbrella body of Visual Artists in Nigeria. He is also a founding member of the Guild of Professional Fine Artists of Nigeria, a body of full-time studio artists with track records of practice for decades. 

Presently, he is the Chairman, Universal Studios of Art, National Theatre; a group of 12 very vibrant, time tested professional Painters and Sculptors. 

Reference:  Distinction exhibition brochure, 2013.


De Beautiful Beginning marks international culture

"Has it ever occurred to you why international day is celebrated by educational institutions?”  This question was the question asked by a five-year-old Miss Mfeheke Okoko, a pupil of De Beautiful Beginning (DBB) School, Magodo, Lagos, during the school’s first International Day celebration. The young lady who wore gold India dress made this remark when she mounted the stage and addressed the guests, parents, teachers and her fellow students, to formally open the event which took place recently.

“It worries me,” she continued, “to see my fellow black skinned man humiliated by a white man. I wonder if it has ever occurred to them that black or white, we are the same. This has necessitated the introduction of the young generation to diverse cultures we have in the world. The awareness of the different world cultures in children will help build an interest for other cultures in children, it will help develop appreciation and respect for their cultures.”

The children wore the attires from each country they represented; countries such as India, Ghana, Brazil, Madagascar, Nigeria, Italy, Japan, South Africa, China, Egypt, Scotland and France. These countries presented various mouth-watering delicacies which they served guests.

The Egyptians are associated with mummies, gold and Pharaohs; these were presented in the Egyptian tent as well as shawarma which they said originated from Egypt.

Indians are known for their colourful wedding ceremony; a very short and colourful wedding was presented during the drama and dance
presentation by the children who represented India.
Present to witness the celebration was Miss Tourism 2014, Collete Nwadike. She said: “It is wonderful seeing such occasion where you bring children together and institute a sense of love, care and appreciation for other people, not just people from Nigeria, not just their tribe, not just their ethnic group but that of other countries, teaching them how to appreciate other countries and speaking their languages. This is the spirit of oneness; it makes them love other countries even though they have not been there.”

Goge Africa celebrity couple presenters, Nneka and Isaac Moses, Ebele the Flutist, were among the judges and they picked the winners by the cuisine, information material, artworks, attire, and stage performances, organisation, etc.
Scotland was third, second was South Africa and India was crowned the winner. There was

a raffle draw in the course of the event and prizes were awarded to the winners. DeBB International day was supported by First Bank.

The proprietress, Mrs Olubukola Ounleye, said it is important for children to know about other countries and their cultures. “We asked them to look at the similarities between Nigeria and other countries, and we discovered in the process of this that they didn’t know much about other countries. Most of them are used to travelling to the United Kingdom, United States and they think other countries are like that, this inspired the international day celebration.”

Nigeria was not left out in the international day event, but her tent was not attractive like other tents and was not well represented in the drama, dance and other activities. “Every class was actually given a country to represent, so I guess what you saw was what they came up with. The International Day is about what each country can display,” said one of the teachers, Mrs Irene Ebegbuna.

'What a man can do, a woman can do even better'

Where did she get the strength and energy to carve such magnificent works? Why chose to be a sculptor, a rather back-bending career? These are few questions that will run through your mind when you encounter the works of Veronica Otigbo-Ekpei.
Otigbo-Ekpei is a perfect example of “what a man can do, a woman can do even better.”  Like many artists who use various media to tell stories and express themselves, she is a female sculptor, who chose to express herself through wood.

From the wood, Otigbo-Ekpei has been able to achieve inward view by balancing a realistic sculpture technique with addition of symbolic allegorical elements. Her works can be seen as a form of visual storytelling, with each work suggesting a narrative and emotional quality.

One of her works, which was on display during her last solo art exhibition titled: Broken Dream; portrays her view on the controversial issue of Child Bride in Nigeria. ‘My works speak volumes about my thoughts and feelings from the sketches and the finishing work’, she informed.
She exhibited eye popping sculptures and button art in her last solo art exhibition, theme: Echoes from the Wood, at Terra Kulture, Victoria Island, Lagos.
The exhibition to her was “an attempt to share the thoughts in wood; what has become my voice and language that are clearly translated through my sculpture works’, she said."

She uses captivating titles for her such as: “Out of Waste, Something Beautiful; series. “These are woods with natural formation that I saved from burning to ashes following the outcry by the wood. I painted the wood with acrylic paint to breathe life into it, to show that out of waste, something beautiful can be achieved.” This, she said aims at supporting the ongoing global campaign against deforestation and bush-burning.

But for African Lady, Flower, Sunset, Dripping Colour, Teenage and lot more are created out of trial according to her. ‘Each time I visit the market where I purchase materials for my sculptures, I found lots of bright-coloured buttons staring at me in the face, and I could not resist the temptation of making experiment with them.
“The buttons are of diverse colours, shapes and sizes; they are made of plastic, glass, metal, clay and rain. I use them to transform a plain surface, to an original work of art using adhesive to fasten them together.”

According to her, ‘the world of the woods, a world offering perfect quiet and solitude, exists side by side with the realisation that there is also another world of people and society’s obligations. They try to reach-out, to speak to us and sometimes even make suggestions, but are not heard because they speak with their mystifying whispers through sound wave and chemical reaction.

‘The unseen forces in the wood are yearning for attention, incidentally and on five years interval are inching to express themselves through my works.
Otigbo-Ekpei has been an active force in this male dominated field of contemporary Nigerian art.  She has been practicing and creating amazing works for more than years. This conveys that she does what she is doing not just for storytelling or to express herself alone but due to her passion for art and sculpture.

“It gives me joy and satisfaction seeing wood in its rough and shapeless form being transformed into an unbelievable object of communication”, she said, adding that it is what keeps her practicing.

She has held five solo exhibitions, ten group exhibitions, and seven commissioned works, calendar illustrations, including books, which she authored. Otigbo-Ekpei is a 2005 master’s degree holder (Sculpture), from the University of Lagos.

Ghanaian and Swiss-Guinean artists exhibit in South Africa

Art South Africa will today, Thursday, March 19, present two solo art exhibitions by two international artists, Jacob Tetteh-Ashong and Namsa Leuba, by 17:30 at the ART AFRICA Project Room, Unit 2, 121 Cecil Road, Salt River, Cape Town, South Africa. The exhibition will run until April 16.

 Joseph Tetteh-Ashong also known as Paa Joe, is a Ghanaian figurative palanquin and fantasy coffin artist. Ashong had his first solo exhibited during the THAT ART FAIR in South Africa and he presented a number of customised coffin maquettes from Ghana – exquisitely handcrafted sculptural artworks in their own right. He will present his scuplture today.

While Namsa Leuba will present photographic images from her series 'Ya Kala Ben' (2011), 'The African Queens' (2012) and 'Cocktail' (2014), as well as a number of images from a series, shot during her time in South Africa shown exclusively for the first time at THAT ART FAIR, an alternative fringe art fair which took place in South Africa February 27 to March 1, this year.

For the past two years Leuba’s research has focused on African identity through Western eyes. Her work has been published in so many magazines, including KALEIDOSCOPE, Foam, Vice Magazine, New York Magazine, Wallpaper and the British Journal of Photography.  Her mother, a Guinean and her father a Swiss.