The scene was electrified with excitement and pure enthusiasm as a new art platform was born. “In all that we have given”, explained Ugochukwu Ikpeazu, founder of ‘Ferrum’, “I feel we have failed to export one of our defining pillars: our cultural heritage” He stated further, “Our voice has been drowned out by globalization when it should have joined the choir, singing praise to human creativity”.
He was motivated by the richness of Africa as a continent, especially as exemplified by the glaring evidence of human and natural resources. By its underlining handout, ‘Ferrum’ is, therefore, established to become an international Art house and a formidable platform, “to promote art and culture as avant-garde agents of development, pushing for progressive and objective change through social integration”. The platform was publicly and officially launched by the Acting High Commissioner of the Republic of Sierra Leone, Rtd. General Claudus Nelson Williams. With this artistic ritual duly performed by a diplomat, Ferrum looks set to take off on a high note.
An African Story, the chosen theme of the commemorative exhibition designed to berth the Ferrum platform paraded bright flickers of young vibrant Nigerian artists whose quality not only dazzled the audience, but also rose to the occasion of standard, which Ferrum firmly represents. The show presented 20 outstanding works by 10 young vibrant Nigerian artists whose age bracket is capped at 35. They are Stephen Osuchukwu (Market Agenda and Strength), Abigail Nnaji (Sisi and Tranquility), Balogun Waziri (Untitled and Untitled), Lucky Isaiah (Playmates and Commerce) and Millicent Osumuo (Sister I and Sisters II). Others are Suraj Adekola (Hustle & Bustle and The Call), Godwin Adesoye (First Born and Lady’s World), Stella-nitta Cornelius (Entangled and Redemption I), Obiora Ekeanozie (Dali (Footprints of a Legend) and The Way We Look) and Tyna Adebowale (Identity Series and Nontitled).
An African Story, which appropriately ignited the evening to redefine the epoch-making event, showed pure class and freshness of creativity, which the young exhibiting artists possess in abundance. All the works, in their collective objectives, expressed Africanness which the curator described as revealing “our inner feelings – our pains and joys – arising from struggles and strives, economic activities, social interactions, political permutations, educational orientation and ambivalent cultural expressions”.
One of the guests in attendance who paid glowing tribute to creativity in Nigeria and also declared the exhibition open, Mr. K. Pedro, Deputy High Commissioner, South African High Commission, could not withhold his awe even as he commended the founder of ‘Ferrum’, Ugochukwu Ikpeazu for exploring the positive virtues of youthfulness while unleashing his dream to African art development. This was the path toed by other commentators who believed that in this age of excessive negative influences on the global youth population, a dream that gave life to art and its producers was, indeed, a unique proactive force that positively engaged and redeveloped the African youth.
The view was shared by master artist and former President of the Guild of Professional Fine Artists of Nigeria, Edosa Ogiugo who travelled from Lagos to witness the twin event in Abuja. He praised the quality of artists and their works, which he believed could “compete with outstanding works from any part of the globe”. On ‘Ferrum’, he said; “I am delighted at the procreation of a platform for young African Artists. We do not have enough of this kind of platform that deliberately takes care of the interest of young artists, especially in Nigeria. I commend Ugochukwu for this initiative”