While it may not be the biggest art gallery I have been to, it doesn’t make it lesser than its counterparts.
When you take a trip to Olumo Rock in Abeokuta; Ogun state, you are immediately ushered into the art gallery on the premises. Mr Oyedeji Banji welcomes all the visitors to the gallery and without missing a beat, starts showing everyone round.
Just like The Nike Art Gallery, trash to art is embraced here, and is probably one of the most important features of this gallery. Nothing is wasted, but instead creative ways are found to turn them into wonderful pieces of art. I left with two paintings which at first glance looked like an oil painting but infact were made with soda cans. The ring of the soda cans were used as the hook at the back with which the painting was hung. If that isn’t innovative, I don’t know what is.
Mr Banji made it known that while it might be a small gallery, artists were eager to showcase their work there as they knew without a doubt it would be seen by visitors who came to see the rock. Various works of art hung in there from the local drummer (onilu), to makoko and paintings of Olumo Rock itself.
There were also sculptures, such as a seat that looked like the palms of ones hand, or the fold-able table which collapses into some sort of briefcase so it can be easily carried around. The ayo game was also wonderfully crafted and it brought back fond memories of me playing it in my grandfather’s house.
If art is not your thing, the crafts section with beads, masks, and little antiquities is sure to draw you in. All this showed one thing – Nigerians are gifted. I imagined the places they would go if a little support and push in the right direction was given.
Before leaving I was encouraged to get a customised bracelet which was also part of the trash to art campaign. Leather straps which people think are useless are converted into lovely bracelets and anything you want can be written on it. I couldn’t help but get one with ‘Unravelling Nigeria’ on it.
The beautiful thing about it is that all my souvenirs didn’t cost an arm and a leg. If these were taken to other countries for sale, the price tags would bring tears to one’s eyes.
Unfortunately as with most art galleries and artists, taking pictures inside is a touchy subject but I was able to get a few for you guys. When visiting Olumo Rock, I highly recommend visiting the gallery and not just rushing to the rock. Think of it as the starter before the main course.
After I left, I was happy and satisfied to know that talented artists are present everywhere in Nigeria not just in Lagos or Abuja, but even in quiet towns which feature red roofs as their signature. Dare I say that the most artistic individuals who come to the big cities are from places like Abeokuta but in the bid of looking for a wider audience, move their base. My father also felt that the art gallery is doing a lot to depict the Yoruba culture, and the trash to art campaign encourages youths to be creative and enterprising.
We left ready to face our next challenge which was climbing Olumo rock.
*we turned a year old on Friday, and Koko and I just want to thank everyone for visiting, criticising, commenting and spreading the word around. It’s been an amazing journey and we hope to continue to bring you more to things to see and do in Nigeria.
Location – Olumo Rock tourist complex, Ikija, Abeokuta North LG
(when you get into Abeokuta, you see the govt house, keep driving down till you get to the end of that street. When you get to the end, take a right. When you get under the bridge, turn left and drive down slowly. You’ll see it on your right! If in doubt call an okada also known as a motorcycle)
Abeokuta is about 1 hour 30 mins from Lagos state.