A collection of African artwork dating back more than 50 years has inspired a trip to Nigeria to trace the original artists.
The collection is owned by international artist, curator and Associate Dean at Sunderland University, Dr Tim Brennan.
In the summer of 1960, Dr Brennan’s parents, Barbara and Martin, moved to Lafia in Nigeria to work as teacher trainers.
Over the next two years they worked with local students at St Augustine’s Teacher Training College producing the artworks.
The couple based their teaching on the ideas of the role of art in education, and the collection created by the aspiring Nigerian teachers described everyday village life in a positive and vibrant manner.
Following their deaths, the collection was passed to Dr Brennan, and now he is following in his parents’ footsteps, returning to the African community to trace the painters who produced this vivid chronicle of Lafian life.
Dr Brennan said: ““The paintings evolved from the direct personal experiences of local students. They were encouraged to ignore Western influence, embrace their local environment and create artworks through free expression.
“They developed a great confidence in their own work which resulted in aesthetically beautiful, vibrant paintings.
“This collection of paintings was completed 50 years ago by third year students, who will now be in their late 60s and 70s. Only local materials were available, which included recycled paper from cement bags and the paints were made from food and leaf dyes, hair dye, washing powder, soil and clay. Boot polish, henna, chalk and charcoal provided the means to draw.”
WaterAid, which has several projects in Nigeria, and the charity’s supporter Northumbrian Water, are backing Dr Brennan’s project called Tracing Lafia.
Dr Brennan added: “We are delighted that Northumbrian Water’s support of this project has brought us so far in such a short period of time.”
“The aptitude of the Nigerians coupled with the expertise of the teaching transcended these limitations to produce this original and accomplished collection.”
Graeme Thompson, Dean of Arts, Design and Media at the university, said: “We are thrilled that we now have an opportunity to travel back to Nigeria to try and discover what happened to these brilliant artists."
You can support the work of WaterAid in Nigeria by purchasing a limited edition print from the collection.
For more information contact Dianne Chaganis via email: Dianne.firstname.lastname@example.org
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