Stringing and Nailing Art Together

Stringing and Nailing Art Together

Omotoyosi Olanrewaju Ogunlende born in 1979, is an indigene of Lagos State. He specialised in sculpture at the Yaba College of Technology and was an assistant curator at Terra Kulture, Lagos. Within the visual arts, he has worked in consulting, training and formal teaching. His most recent works are made with nails and strings. He held the first social painting event at the Agodi Botanical Gardens in Ibadan.

Can you tell us about your journey into the visual arts?
My journey started when I was a little boy whose love for the arts grew steadily drawing from comics and story books, which my mother sold while I was growing up.
You specialised in sculpture, but recently, worked on several mural commissions while teaching art formally and informally. What gave rise to this?
Sculpture is my first love, then murals came along because of the empty walls lacking in creativity that I saw in schools where I was teaching art. Both teaching my first mural project started in Abuja in 2010.
With respect to teaching, I love children and the idea of catching them young gave rise to this. Impacting young lives is one of my favourite things to do.
You recently conducted an ‘Art in the Park’ project at Agodi Gardens in Ibadan. What informed this and can you tell us about the project?
I started a ‘social painting’ project in partnership with a tourism company The Dare Experience, and the idea was to get everyone painting. We believe everyone has an innate bundle of talent  and creativity, it only has to be nurtured. We don’t require you to have a skill,talent or basic knowledge but to express and unleash the creativity within you. In 2016, we had the first edition in Lagos and because it was successful, we decided to take it to Ibadan. Agodi Gardens is a lovely and serene outdoor space with many facets as well as history. Generations of people have visited this space and we thought it was a most ideal setting.For the inaugural edition, we did not have as many people we had hoped for, but it was a great start and the participants had a wonderful time.There will surely be a second edition.
‘String art’ seems to be your new style of work. What inspired it, and you run us through the work process?
(Laughs!) Yes, string art is my new love!
I first saw string art about a year ago in South Africa when I attended the design and creative conference, Design Indaba in February, 2016.
I was inspired seeing different colours of thread been strung on a long stretch. When I returned home, I experimented with this idea for the ETHNIK by Tunde Owolabi fashion brand launch, the same year. That’s how it all started and I have not looked back since then.
With stringent portraits seem to be your focus. Is there any particular reason for this?
For now,I have a flair for portraits in this particular medium because I see it as a unique one. Other media like oil,acrylic,pastel,water colour,paper collage,graphite, pencil and pen, are all used for portraiture and other genres. Having string art to add to the media is not a bad one. I have been privileged to ‘string’ some people along and I’m still counting!(laughs!).
How durable are string art works and how can they be maintained?
They are durable if and well preserved.  I use well seasoned wood and anti-rust nails in the production, and the threads are strong as well. About maintaining the works, they can be framed behind glass for further protection from dust but that will take away the real feel of the work.
A second protective way is to fix the piece using a fixative spray, which protects its surface.
Has there been full acceptance of this, and is it perceived as art and not craft?
Yes, there has because of the uniqueness of the style and craft.
For me, art is a craft and craft is an art where creativity and craftsmanship is exhibited.

String Art portrait of late Chief  Rasheed Gbadamosi’s  in progress

At the inaugural Rasheed Gbadamosi Art Expo in Lagos, you exhibited your portrait of the late art patron. What influence did he have on you?
Like I said earlier, string art is unique and Chief  Rasheed Gbadamosi was a unique and great art patron in Nigeria. May his soul rest gently and peacefully.
Who are those that inspire your string art?
I follow closely the works of Christopher Panic Love, Linsey Simone Dryden and Dany Marty Casaletta.
They inspire me.
Please tell us about your forthcoming exhibitions and projects.
I hope to have a not-your-regular-type exhibition later in the year.
For  projects, I’ll be working on more portraits including that of the Afro Beat legend ”Baba 70”, Fela Anikulapo Kuti. On Instagram, I have identified a few string artists in Nigeria, and started a mini string art forum called Naija String Artists. We are few but we will grow in numbers.



Lagos skyline, Central Mosque and National Theatre

‘Keke Marwa’

lanre ogunlende at work

Working on ‘TuBaba’ Idibia’s portrait

King Sunny Ade

Professor Wole Soyinka

Adebimpe Adebambo is the Business Development Officer at Revilo, an art and culture publishing company. She studied Painting at the Yaba College of Technology, Lagos. Adebambo is also a fashion and accessories designer, and her work is concerned with environmental sustainability and recycling. She debuted as a costume designer on Tunde Kelani's award-winning film Dazzling Mirage, garnering for her efforts, 2 nominations in 2015 for an Africa Magic Viewers' Choice Award and an African Movie Academy Award for Best Costume Designer and Achievement in Costume Design, respectively. Adebimpe Adebambo loves to write and is presently working on a storybook.

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