Colours, easel, brush, and a creative mind were all it took young Precious Tiamiyu, a 9-year-old student of Legacy Preparatory School, Shasha, Lagos, to emerge as winner of this year’s “Vision of The Child” painting competition sponsored by Diamond Bank. Out of the 189 students scouted from 400 schools, between the ages of 8 and 12, Precious stole the night with his captivating and thought provoking painting piece theme – Sad faces of Nigerians.
The Vision of the Child painting competition is one of the highlights of Lagos black heritage festival that seeks to develop the creativity of the young ones based on their perception and observation of happenings in the society. Though, formerly an adult art competition, the organisers with the support of the Lagos State government, shifted its focus to children. This year’s event was a bit different and more challenging for the young ones who were scouted from different primary and secondary schools in the state.
Apart from the Herculean task of searching for budding talents in the Lagos metropolis, the theme of the painting competition was unknown to the contestants till late January. Out of the 189 students who initially entered the contest, 32 were selected for the final contest out of which six finalists were chosen. The theme of this year’s contest was “The thousand and one faces of corruption,” which was on exhibition from March 25 to April 1, spanning the duration of the festival.
It was beyond amazement to view beautiful paintings of these children as they tried to capture different facets of corruption in their work of art. With colours and brush, they made artistic strokes depicting the effects of corruption in the country. From money looting by fraudulent politicians to the examination malpractice in educational institutions, the young ones proved to the audience that they are fully aware of the decadence of corruption in the society and the conundrums it created as well.
Not only did they draw attention to the multifaceted menace, they were able to capture the implication of corruption on Nigerians. It was from this theme that Precious would emerge as the overall winner of the painting competition.
In his painting, he combined colours in a delicate blend with intricate sketches of gloomy faces, depicting the sad plight of Nigerians. Using green as his predominant colour, he captured the tone and theme of his artwork in a melancholic manner.
During the exhibition at Freedom Park, guests marvelled at the creativity of these young ones in their paintings. This was also affirmed by Tola Wewe, one of the judges and former commissioner of culture and tourism in Ondo State, at the high-octane Gala Night Award held at Oriental Hotel. Describing the children’s paintings as masterpieces, he further expressed his astonishment at how the children captured the theme of the painting contest. “Children are masters because their reality is pure. What really baffled me was the way they tackled the task, which shows that they are current with what is happening in the country, and I pray they tell their parents and elders that corruption is really bad because they were able to tackle all aspects of corruption in Nigeria,” Wewe said.
He expatiated on the criteria by which the panel of judges arrived at their decisions. The judges were made up of professionals such as Tunde Afolayan, a professional artist based in North Carolina, USA, and Nike Okundaye, a renowned artist/CEO, Nike Art Gallery.
“The best paintings were picked considering the way the participants handled the technical properties of the subject matter and the aesthetic qualities of the paintings. We were able to arrive at our judgement by selecting the best 10, which all the judges agreed on. This enabled us to reduce the 10 to six after putting a lot of things into consideration, and also scored them. Each of us scored the six individually and we found the average mark. The maximum point was six for every child and the minimum was one.”
Through this selection process they were able to pick the best artist who scored 17 points while the second best scored 15 points.
The Nobel Laureate and the festival consultant, Wole Soyinka congratulated the judges on their efforts, however, he opposed to the judges lauding the children’s paintings as masterpieces because he felt it would make them less challenged. Nevertheless, he commended the children for their aesthetic paintings and advised the public never to underestimate the power of a child’s mind. He also pointed out that painting was one of the tedious forms of art and hoped that the best paintings he liked would emerge as the winners.
This proved to be true when the six finalists were finally announced. It was a close call between the first runner-up Alli Bakare and the winner, Precious Tiamiyu, as the subject matter of their painting was almost similar. However, the winner stood out as he portrayed the sad faces of Nigerians in his painting through his colour combination and subject matter.
Diamond Bank, the sole sponsor of the painting competition, reiterated its continual support for the vision of the child project as one of its corporate social responsibility, which seeks to create a platform to empower the children to actively participate in societal issues. Each of the 32 participants was rewarded with gift packs from Diamond Bank and a kiddies account too. To venerate the six finalists, the cash prize for this year’s event was also doubled.
The names of the six best paintings and the cash prizes received are as follows: Precious Tiamiyu of Legacy Preparatory School, Shasha, N250,000; Alli Bakare of Onitolo Community High School, Surulere, N200,000; Samuel Yomi Faseun of Apostolic Faith Secondary School, Anthony Village, N180,000; Somtochukwu Okoli of Badagry Junior Grammar School, N150,000; Bolaji Olaniran of Onitolo Community High School, Surulere, N120,000, and Oluchukwu Nwokorie of Reagan Memorial Baptist Girls School, Yaba. N100,000.
In addition, the literature writer, Jimi Solanke who read one of his poems ‘Ogun’ from his book ‘Ancient and Modern Tales’ at the event gave each of the participants a copy of his book.