A Score for Onobrakpeya’s Harmattan Workshop
In 1998, acclaimed Nigerian artist, Bruce Onobrakpeya established the Harmattan Workshop to promote informal training for artists. An initiative of the Bruce Onobrakpeya Foundation, two editions a year of the workshop have been organised at the artist’s home town Agbara-Otor in Delta State. Since inception, 1,300 leading and emerging Nigerian and international artists have been trained in many exciting art forms including painting, sculpture, metal, stone, jewelry, textile and mixed media.
The history of informal print workshops is incomplete without the mention of those organised at the Mbari Artists’ and Writers’ Club in Ibadan (1962), and the Mbari Mbayo in Osogbo (1964), both attended and facilitated by Onobrakpeya. Also notable are workshops at the University of Ife’s Institute of African Studies (1974), which Ulli Beier, then the director facilitated. In 1975, Bruce Onobrakpeya attended the Haystack Mountain School of Crafts in Deer Isle, Maine. There he learned how two-week courses in several media could run simultaneously and artists of varying skill levels could work side by side. He would later adopt this model for his Harmattan Workshop.
Due to the rapidly growing number of participants, the annual workshop has for some time now been divided into two. The first session is usually slated for February, while the other, which is designed for professionals, holds in August, and hence commonly known as the “August Retreat”.
Leading practitioners and scholars like Professor Uche Okeke, Demas Nwoko, Kolade Oshinowo, Jimoh Buraimoh, Ndidi Dike, Jide Adeniyi-Jones, Sam Ovraiti, Prof. Peju Layiwola, Dr. Nelson Edewor, Roland Ogianmwen, Oladapo Afolayan, Jerry Buhari, Duke Asidere and Professor John Godwin have been facilitators or guests at the workshop. Other distinguished guests include one-time United States ambassador to Nigeria, Robin Renee Sanders, the Ford Foundation’s Dr. Adiambo Odaga and Smithsonian Institution’s Janet Stanley, as well as professors Alagoa and J.P. Clark, Wanda Ibru and former Governor of Delta State, Felix Ibru.
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