• Saturday, April 13, 2024
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Hardship dominates art expression in Garden City

Hardship dominates art expression in Garden City

A visitor to the Moriri Art exhibition hall on Tom Inko-Tariah Avenue in Rumuogba Estate near the Miniokoro Police zone would first see a man pushing back on the pressures of life.

It is the work by Tonye Pollyn titled ‘PUSH’. It is a man pushing and wincing. Most visitors easily connected with the imagery because almost every Nigerian is pushing back to escape into some relief and comfort.

Just opposite the wall is a heavily overloaded houseboat cruising slowly along the coloured waters of the Niger Delta. The ‘Kpururu,’ according to Timipre Amah, is almost sinking but the large number of passengers seemed oblivious of the threats of sinking, just as most Nigerians relax in the face of danger because threat seems part of normal existence in the country.

The houseboat, just like all other houseboats in the Niger Delta waters, are usually overloaded and faulty, ready to sink but never to sink. The journey goes on.

Kpururu by Timipre Amah (PhD)


By the right, standing on the floor, is a carved work by doctorate degree holder, Charles Omuaru, who carved a work of citizens in search of a leader, as if to depict the endless search by Nigerians from one election to another; creating hopes, crashing hopes.

These are part of 14 works on exhibition, according to Kayode Adeoti, director of Moriri Art and Contemporary Gallery which has ceaselessly mounted art exhibitions in the drive to restore the leadership position of Port Harcourt in art, music, comedy and entertainment. From Rex Lawsons, Julius Agwu, Timaya, Duncan Mighty, Omah Lay, Waconzy, Dandizzy, Muma Gee, to Hilda Dokubo and Sam Dede of Isakaba fame, the Garden City has been on the global entertainment map.

Adeoti says its time to attract art lovers especially expatriates who follow the flow of crude oil around the world back to Port Harcourt.

The Moriri Art Gallery emerged with a bang in 2022 with ‘Soot’ which rallied voices against the soot menace in Port Harcourt and the Niger Delta.

The centre followed in 2023 with exhibitions on ‘Art and Governance’ to beam attention political life in Nigeria. The gallery and the artists resolved to give same level of attention they gave to Soot to governance issues.

Adeoti had disclosed at the an art press conference held at Novotel Hotel in Port Harcourt Thursday, March 23, 2023, saying Moriri is a rallying call of attention back to art in the Niger Delta after art geniuses had allegedly fled the zone. It does this by mounting exhibitions on a chosen theme each year.

In all of 2023, Adeoti said artists would dig into their minds and create works that would show the connection between art and governance.

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He said most minds may wander to the ills in Nigeria’s governance space such as failed promises and electoral violence but said artists were free to reflect these things to express their minds and perceptions.

The latest exhibition, Searchlight, is expected to continue the search for an agreed political framework that can govern Nigeria in all the geo-political zones toward a political consensus.

Now, the efforts are beginning to attract the government authorities.
Searchlight was declared open by the permanent secretary in the Ministry of Youth, Rowland Obed White, who disclosed intention to brief the commissioner on the possibility of initiating a partnership with Moriri.

In an interview, he told BusinessDay thus: “I am here to serve as the guest of honour and to declare the exhibition open. What I have seen here is brilliant work and of international standards. This is what we urge our youths to do, to try and make their works competitive in international arena. Art is in different types, sculpture, drawings, etc.”

The permanent secretary said every artist needs global exposure. “This exhibition is in different styles. It’s fantastic. Academics have joined and they are mentoring young ones to start up. For academics including readers, professors, and other lecturers to participate in such an exhibition is very good. It raises the standards and perceptions.”

Rowland Obed White
Rowland Obed White, permanent secretary, Ministry of Youths


He revealed that next stage: “I will thus brief my boss, the Honourable Commissioner for Youth, that we can find ways to partner with the Moriri Art and Contemporary Gallery so the youths of our state can be trained with our support.

Talking on Port Harcourt as possible centre of art in the south-south, White said with what he saw; “This Gallery has the capacity to handle the task of leading Port Harcourt to become an art hub and runs such things. This exhibition is not their first, from what I have gathered. They have done some before this.

If this was to be in the Western world, you would pay through the nose for services and offerings I see here. Most of what we are seeing are seen in the Benin and Delta axis, but they are now in Port Harcourt, courtesy, the Moriri Gallery. With partnership and collaboration, they would go places.”