An art exhibition held at Didi museum, Victoria Island, recently, is one that provokes a peculiar conversation, especially as it concerns care for the health challenged people in the society.
The solo art show, by a 17 year old girl, Ayomide Fadase, tagged “Ayo Says” speaks more to the inner mind and invokes that spirit of compassion than the normal representation of creative instincts and experimentation with colours.
“This is my art exhibition, and it is a side of me. It is me doing art and showing it for a better cause. My journey was more to art and it has been direct; from a semi-passion, not a super-passion yet, but hopefully there is something coming,” says Ayomide.
With the theme “Lavie: AyoSays” Ayo who is so compassionate with children with cerebral palsy said that the kids do not have power to take care of themselves and are rarely mentioned in the media, unlike other kids with vision and hearing impaired. According to her, children with cerebral palsy are different and need more than empathy, hence the need to create adequate awareness through any means possible to support them.
“You can easily see physically challenged children with blindness, deaf and dumb or deformed body but not cerebral palsy. I was exposed to their world and plight when I visited the Cerebral Palsy Center founded by Mrs. Nonye Nweke. Until then, I didn’t know about cerebral palsy neither did I know that there were so many people in the world with such disability,” said Ayo.
Stemming from this compassion, Ayo said that she always knew she will be doing something for the charity and this particular project is a stepping stone to actualise that dream.
“I am really happy doing this because I always knew I wanted to donate all my proceeds to the needy. Majorly this isn’t about just donating to them but I was considering doing something extraordinarily different in my life. This particular exhibition is majorly to spread awareness for what people didn’t know about cerebral palsy, and all the proceeds made at this exhibition goes into the Cerebral Palsy Centre,” she added.
Ayomide, who is just 17 and at her final year at High School in the United States, says that she intends to study economics and international business politics in the university, and for art, it is something borne out of creative experimentation with nature and materials.
“Growing up in Nigeria, we always did art in school, it was more of an academic thing, I was always told how to draw line straight and how do a couple of other things. It was where the arts side of me sprang up and it was basically academics.
“I was never encouraged to push it while I was in Nigeria until I moved to United States and the classes I attended in arts where more creative and free spirited. I got my passion to practice art and nurtured the creative side to push it for a better cause,” she said.
The exhibition featuring 26 works were basically paintings rendered in oil, acrylic, and pastel on canvas. With the theme, “Lavie,” the inspiration according to Ayo was drawn from nature with focus on the cerebral palsy children in the society. The works which were in various sizes was a total experimentation of colours and feeling by the youthful Ayomide whose works not only appealed to the audience including art icons and enthusiasts, but also sold about 70% of the entire exhibits.
According to her, “My works are majorly in painting, oil, acrylic and I usually start with pencil. Hopefully, I would go into sculpture, photography which is what I also love but I haven’t taken that serious for now. All the 26 works exhibited today are on canvas. Calculating the amount of hours, it was 350 hours, 14 days non-stops. The whole plan of the exhibition took about 6 months for the physical work of painting and all, it took 350 which converts to 15 days.”
One of the special guests at the exhibition, Nigeria’s great art icon, Professor Bruce Onobrakpeya was impressed at the body of works exhibited. Talking about his assessment of the works, he said, “From every angle, this is a success story, beautiful works and the motivation to create is very well founded and she has started very well and the sky is just the start.
“All of the works impressed me. They all have subjects but one has a free colour and it’s beautiful. That’s the one is stood behind and I would keep it in my house and stay with it because it shocked me. It has freedom, it’s appealing, you don’t have to look here and there and find something pleasing. They are all there,” says Onobrakpeya.
Prof Onobrakpeya went further by saying, “I want to praise her but I would also praise the background (parents) who are mentoring her. Most of us didn’t have this kind of encouragement growing up. We should also praise the school where she studies. The school has done so well to encourage her. The school must be praised for what they did. She has good background from parents and good mentoring from the school.
“There are so many art gallery in Lagos but the important thing is that the work she has created now I have seen the red dots and they will go into homes and the homes are exhibition points because people who would see it I homes are people who would buy from her. She doesn’t even need the gallery to exhibits because people would consult her for the paintings. What she should concentrate on is to continue her studies because I don’t know what she wants to do but let her continue her studies and not come out and be launched fully into it.
“For Nigerian youths in art, yes, I am happy. The thing is the youth needs mentorship and the youths are important and can be mentored. We want other parents to do what they have done for their daughter. It’s where mentorship starts. They will grow right. If I do not believe in the youth, I won’t spend all my time teaching the youth and my time now opening up a workshop where the youth are being trained. I have an institute which takes youths, students and the local students who never went to school at all.
“Talking about her theme, “Cerebral palsy,” at least health is expensive, if you can do anything to help and raise money, then it’s a good thing. People who are challenged in the hospital are also introduced to help because in a way, art helps people to get better especially when they are challenged health wise. The other way round: the money would be used to take care of the sick and challenged people
“Government should recognize people like this young lady who love arts, they should be given scholarships. Also, there are workshops places in arts; it should be made available for them so they can mix with other cultures and countries. The government should assist the charge of education. Help these children to grow. Help institutions to help the children grow financially,” Onobrakpeya said.
Expressing his enthusiasm, Ayodele Fadase, father of the artist said, “When you see your seed start to grow, you will have a vision of what the end point will look like. I am seeing a fruitful future growing, I am also anchoring it based on my faith and the scripture that says “despise not the days of little beginning.” So, as she is starting today, I can see this as a bridge to a beautiful and bright future. I will continue to encourage and create as much opportunities for her as possible to display, harness, cultivate and bring out much of her passions and desires.
“I am also a believer that there are several rules to success; art is one, and other opportunities will come. She has discovered arts now. It doesn’t mean that something else will not come through but the beauty is that when she comes forward with a passion, it is our duty as parents to continue to water it so she can succeed.
For her mum, Mrs. Fadase, she said that Ayo’s impression in her artwork is an expression of who she is. “She is happy, kind and compassionate. She thinks more of others than herself. That is why the proceeds of this exhibition will all go to the Cerebral Palsy Center, handled by Mrs. Nonye Nweke, who has turned some children’s pains into joy and laughter,” she said.
According her, the exhibition is towards the inauguration of Mrs Nweke’s new center at Lekki from Surulere where the center was previously sited.