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'What I discovered in India during my residency last year'.

Dr Ellis Oyekola is Senior Principal Lecturer in the Department of Fine Arts, The Polytechnic, Ibadan. In this interview with Adewale Oshodi, the widely-travelled artist who was in India last year for a residency programme compares the country with Nigeria. Excerpts:

Towards the end of last year, you were in India for an art residency, so how did your two weeks stay in the country go?

Yes, towards the end of last year, specifically From October 30th to November 8, I was in India for an art residency organised by The Narrative Movement, India, with the theme, 'Golden Thread.' Being the first of its kind, it brought artists from all over the world, working together for the common goal of achieving a global artistic cooperation and cultural harmony. The Narrative Movement, India is an international art organisation responsible for the use of arts to foster international cooperation and global peace and harmony.

The movable artworks produced during the residency are in the collection of the organizers, which are now being showcased all over India.

Apart from what you went there for, what observations did you noticed between India and Nigeria, during your stay?

A summary of comparative analysis of the two cultures indicated that India is very much ahead in almost all fields of endeavour. There is political stability, religious harmony and economic viability. Low crime rate and adequate security with viable intelligent spade works have placed India on a platform of not only industrial emancipation and renaissance but also economic stability.

Information and Communication Technology (ICT), electrical and mechanical engineering technology are super, most especially solar energy. Agricultural engineering technology is placing them as one of the largest producers of rice, while in the area of medicine, pharmaceutical and health technology they excel.

Some Nigerians now look up to India for medical treatment and assistance.

In the area of industrial development and manufacturing, especially textile clothing and dyeing, they employ local and traditional technology to achieve all these. Apart from the above, Indians are very resourceful, hardworking and they try to avoid waste. Some of the dinning materials used during the residency were improvised, especially the serving plates were produced from dried flat leaves gotten in abundance in the environment. These leaves were coupled together with tiny pieces of sticks and were used in serving meals.

Another spectacular manufacturing feat is that all the paints used during the residency, both oil and acrylic were produced in India.

The villagers where I stayed, most of them with dark skin, like Africans, were very hospitable and provided the manpower needs of the participating artists at little or no cost.

You have also embarked on your art residency for a couple of years now, how far have you gone with it and what do you intend to achieve when it is completed?

Actually, I have gone very far by establishing and registering an art centre which would accommodate programmes for residencies. Plans are in top gear to complete the project before 2020.The administrative headquarters will be in Ibadan, Oyo State, with a branch at Ogbomoso.

When completed, facilities will be available for both national and international artist-in-residence programmes. Art gallery, studios, library, administrative offices and accommodation for boarding will equally be available for artists who will come from afar and would like to stay for some period of time.

The centre will also look into the possibility of empowering the youth by providing a conducive atmosphere for skill acquisition in all the fields of art.

What plans do you have for the New Year and which countries are you likely to visit in the course of your calling as an artist?

My plans for the New Year are in the hands of God, my Creator, who directs, guards and guides me in all my endeavours. I commit everything into His hand and with faith justification, He will see me through. It's likely I visit some popular European countries noted for excellence in visual arts, either for residency, award or a biennale. I have equally applied for residencies in some Asian countries, most especially China and Japan and if things go right with the assistance of God, I will be in Venice, Italy for the biennale of Nations next month.
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Publication:Nigerian Tribune (Oyo State, Nigeria)
Geographic Code:9INDI
Date:Feb 15, 2018
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