WHERE joy lives, it always spreads to anyone who comes near. Joy often goes with a sense of positivity that is contagious. In a land of joyful people, the mood is warm. The convivality charges society to a collective sense of unanimity. Spirit of progress and an engulfing current of sharing, loving, caring and an engagive verve that catalizes the land to aspire to higher heights in confidence and self sustaining bliss often mark such society.
Joy, therefore, is a transforming agent that pays every land that habours it with overwhelming measures of good tidings and visible growth both in human capital and socio-economic quotient because it energises hitherto moribund or forlon habitats with new life,new ideas and new spirit for development. But one special factor about joy is that no human or people can give or exude it if he or they do not truely have it within them. Joy comes from within, where those who radiate it draw their force. Joy is light whose rays brighten its environs.
Anambra State, ‘Light of the Nation’, brims with joy which she beams out in a radiance that beckons all and sundry from homeland, neighbourhood and diaspora to her.
Being the ‘Light of the Nation’ given her radiance and the glow she exudes to the country and beyond a positive energy that illuminates and attracts,she lets out the light she has within. Hence, frown as much as you like or rage, even if it is your nature never to be happy, you would not encounter Anambra State and depart without a healthy memory of the people.
Ndi Anambra are naturally good, warm and hospitable. Their land is very accommodting and fecund for enterprise, industry and investment. Anambra loves her citizens and her sourjoners. This is why the state’s moniker used to be ‘Home for All’.
At end of year (Christmas) and New Year period, when culturally, ndi Anambra return to their ancestral homes en-mass for coveted family reunions and town hall meetings, the communal spirit and sense of kinship of the people rises high.
Anambra State becomes agog with colourful festivities and the land turns a panorama of fun. Engaging spectacles and memorable events hold within the period to enscribe in the mind of the people of the land, especially sons and daughters from the Diaspora, and their friends the indelible heritage of peace, pleasure and plenty of opportunities that mark Anambra State.
Ever since the emergence of Governor Willie Maduabuchukwu Obiano as the helmsman of Anambra State in March 2014, the end of year and new year seasons have also provided real-time opportunities for ndi Anambra who return for yuletide and tourists to have direct experience of the level of security, as well as witness the spate of development in their homeland.
The seven-day-long chain of festivities of the arts entitled, ‘Ka Anyi Luo Uno’ which Anambra State debuts this year, through her Ministry of Indigenous Artworks, Diaspora Affairs, Culture and Tourism, in December, stirs and drives the momentum of celebration across the state during the season.
The title, ‘Ka Anyi Luo Uno’ (let’s go home) subtheme, ‘Bia Nwee Anuli’ (come and have joy) while communicating the true characteristics of ndi Anambra, particularly expresses the mood of the land during the season.
Through the vehicles of their creativity, participating artists in the art exhibition packaged as part of ‘Bia Nwee Anuli 2018,’ capture the plethora of visual, social and cultural tendencies of the season.
From the massive homecomings and reunions which always set families and communities in happy mood to the warm-but-clement bright harmatthan skies of the period, to the dances, the feast-marked stretch of merriments, masquerading, title-taking, motherland-and-Diaspora connections, night folktale sessions, among others, the artists recreate thought-provoking aspects of the season and equally offer visual naratives that dosally highlight salient attributes of Anambra State.
The exhibition’s ouvre, collated mainly from entries submited through the Internet by young and not-quite-old artists in Anambra State and her Diaspora presents a collection of art pieces comprising paintings, sculptures and mixed-media works that directly or extantly fit the theme of show, ‘Bia Nwee Anuli’.
The artists are either ndi Anambra (at home or in Diaspora) or residents who practise in the state who responded to the mass media call for entries made November through December 2018. Though their messages vary, the issues the artists raise converge in concept, techniques and style to make a body of works that any informed appraiser could tag: ‘Bia Nwee Anuli’.
In their diverse studio approaches, the artists showcase the Igbo dicta, a di ano ofu ebe ekili mmonwu (you do not watch a masquerade from one spot) and esiro ofu uzo a ga afia (there is no lone path to the market). With woods and metals, sculptor Chidi Iloani highlights the values of coming together. His mixed medium (carved wood with metal), titled, ‘Behind… The Melody’ conceptually hints the Socratic dictum – look inward.
The sculpture equally encourages the guest who is new in town, in Anambra, to explore and discover that during the yuletide, the real fun is in the hinterland not in the cities and metropolies. Just head to the villages and localities and savour Christmas and New Year. Iloani’s bronze cast five-piece assemblage, ‘Reunion’ also speaks volumes of the essence of the characteristic homecoming during the season, though using a wild breed’s family for symbolic imagery.
Emebo Chukwuma Somtochukwu’s three wood carving pieces, ‘Coronation,’ ‘Celebration’ and ‘Family,’ all project some vital attributes of the season. The mixed wood and fiber glass title ‘Coronation’ tells of the usual title-taking ceremonies of the period. Using a carved white wood with an emborsed stylised relief sculpture of a titled man with his paraphenelia, Emebo puts out a visual message on royal grandure and elegance.
Wood is also the medium Chidi Okoye favours in his offers for the show. In such titles as ‘Udala’, ‘Odunze,’ among others that dot on beauty, power and elegance – all common features of the season.
With the mixed media piece, ‘Nuo nu, Nwee nu Anuli’, the artist,Chukwudi Onyendi connects the elements of consumerism and feasting that mark the period. Making a collage of used cans of beverage drinks such as beer and fruit juice, Onyendi deploys materials in a manner that sets the viewer’s mind on the millions of pints that will be bellied during the season.
In ‘Egwu Onwa’,an aesthic dye-print textile piece made for painting frames not wardrobes, the artist, Rita Doris Uba calls to mind the moon-lite folktale nights that children, especially from Diaspora, frantically look foward to during the period. Ezeemo Uchechukwu J. offers a painting of same title.
Mrs. Uba’s expansive and colourful soft installation assemblage, entitled, ‘Orimili’ feeds memories of the colours and flambouyance of the season.Onyendi’s multi-potrait painting, ‘AsoEbi’ equally communicates the flare for fashion in the season. Similarly, ‘Ijeoma’ by Njoku Moses O. plays on threads and wools in a way that celebrates fashion and poise in the same way that ‘Endurance’ (wool on board) by Ogbobe Felicia Nwanneka expresses the vast possibilities of wools in expressing colour and beauty.
Should a viewer’s interest be subtle elegance and intricate coquetries of fashion such as delicate beads and lusterous fabrics, an encounter of ‘Posed Model’ by Chinwuba Christopher, a mixed media sculpture that has every property of a minimalist three-dimensional fashion art, will make his or her day, the way discovering the hidden beauty of a hinterland bride, well decked for Christmas outing would gladden the hearts of a long-searching suitor.
Though Chinwuba’s ‘Posed Model’ is made of cow tusk and soft metal wires, it comes out resplendent like a specimen on royal robing, especially for a princess or a newly inducted lolo.
Chuka Nnabuife’s mixed media exploration of the unusual blend of tea and ink on paper in such pieces as ‘Onye Nze Echigo’, ‘Christmas Cow 1 & 2’, ‘Christmas Goat 1 & 2’, push forth the thrust of title-taking and the usual casualties of the period, the livestock whose numbers deplete rapidly as slaughters get busy to service the feasts.
Dance and gait are the core properties of the pictures, ‘IgbaIjele’ and ‘Atilogwu Dance’ by Fredrick Nwogem; and the maiden dancers of the painting, ‘At the Sound of Music’ by Ahumaraeze Ekeoma. They recreate the spectacle of a plethora of dance groups that roam from home to home during the season. In fact, vistae like ‘IgbaIjele’, ‘At the Sound of Music’ as well as Nnabuife’s ‘Mmanwu Ulaga’ and ‘Music From the Master’ would surely be daily occurances in almost every Anambra commune this season. Similarly, Nnabuife’s somewhat satirical ink-on-paper piece ,’Town Union Meeting’ highlights a very regular feature of the period in the area.
Chinwuba’s mixed media picture, ‘Northern Wind,’ though small in size, thrills in its colour use, compositional balance and abstraction. Similarly, the rich secondary hues and middle tones of colour in the pallete of Oforgu Scholastica Ebelechukwu in ‘Tommorrow Comes’ gives testament of an artist who knows how to captrue great expectations.
Beholding the orange horizon that strikes like evening sky in her somewhat surreal landscape, the viewer experiences an unconscious transportation into a world beyond the moment , akin to the hope adherent Christians habour as the early four weeks of advent beckon Christmas. And most ndi Anambra are ardent Christians.
But the painting wets their expectations like later days of December would raise fantasies in the mind of children of this part of the world in anticipation of a Christmas blitz. In the mind of every child in the east of Nigeria, once December rolls into the third week is such thought as : Will Christmas come tomorrow?
Ekeoma in the painting, ‘Our Pride’ and Felix Anyaduba in ‘Diaspora,’ take to the realm of abstraction to express the mood in fresh colours. Their bold exploration of coloration therein enriches the exhibition’s collection.
But beyond the rich hues there are pieces that dwell on the values of the people that go farther than feasting and beauty. Among them are the glass fiber relief sculpture piece, ‘A Tale By Great Mother’ by James EdidiongIta, a National Youth Service Corps member serving in Awka. His high realism sculpture communicates how a mother passes on the values of life to a daughter while in the busy schedule of taking care of the home as most women would be involved in during the Yuletide.
Similarly, Okoye’s sculptures, ‘Dreams of an African Queen’ and ‘Mother and Child’ makes same issue their thrust.
More direct in sounding a clear note of caution as the celebrations frenzy heats up is the very engaging painting, ‘The Lady With Knife’ by Godlove Chiamaeche Ikegwuonu.
Using a healthy joggling of texture and flat placement of colours and dark gray hues that mince no words in sounding the message that “not all that glitters are gold”, Ikegwuonu serves a picture that tells the viewer to watch out while celebrating because even the most harmless ones can cloak some harm. His two-figure composition states an important warning: That one must celebrate with eyes open without writing a word.
Such are the vast frontiers of artists harvest of the theme: ‘Bia Nwee Anuli’. The tropes of the exhibition collection is mind boggling.