No Rest, No Comfort, Confusion Everywhere, a work that explores the restiveness in Nigeria’s North-East region using foam and other soft and stuffed materials as well as over 20 million dangerous pins to represent a visual image of inaccessibility and the irony of lack in the midst of plenty, was adjudged the overall winner of this year’s National Art Competition held at Kongi Art Gallery, Freedom Park, Lagos on Thursday, November 26, 2015. The masterpiece was created by Sabastine Ugwuoke, a sculptor who specializes in drawing attention to critical societal issues through experimental expression.
The theme for this year’s competition was “Future Histories” – a theme that encourages artists to think laterally about the social, political, and cultural climate of their local communities whilst exploring their terra incognita art practice. Twelve finalists were put through a rigorous selection process to qualify for the finals. Sabastine’s work, No Rest, No Comfort, Confusion Everywhere, follows a routine process of stuffing different colours and sizes of foam as bed, which ordinarily is a place of rest with sharp objects ranging from nails, toothpicks and other dangerous materials to depict “no rest”, “no comfort”, ‘confusion” everywhere. It predicts that if the menace of Boko Haram and other related security issues are not critically addressed, the entire country will one day be thrown into anarchy that will be unconducive for business and social activities. The piece successfully portrays a ‘future history’ if urgent and necessary actions are not taken to stem the tide of terrorism in Nigeria’s North-East.
For Sabastine, the win is far reaching: “I know money counts and with a grand prize of N2 million I have a lot to be thankful to Nigerian Breweries for. But beyond the money, I’ m immensely grateful for the exposure. NB and AAF have exposed me to the world. I have been offered a platform to meet other great artists from across the world and showcase my talent to the world. And I am deeply grateful for this”
Sabastine is not alone in expressing the impressions winning the competition left him. May Okafor, winner of the most outstanding concept who walked away with N1 million explains: “I felt good when I completed this interpretation to future histories. But I felt better when I was announced a winner of the prize. May Okafor’s work “Dear Content” uses monochromatic material (Apple crates) to express the ideas that the history of tomorrow is determined by the people that are given birth to at every point in time. The piece portrays the idea that our world would end if people stop pro-creating – if there are no people, there are no future histories. Ngozi Omeje won the Most Outstanding Concept to walk home with N1million.
According to the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Nigerian Breweries, Mr. Nicolaas Vervelde the sponsorship of the National Art Competition is part of a broad spectrum of initiatives geared towards the company’s vision of winning with Nigeria. The MD/CE who was represented at the final event by the Corporate Affairs Adviser, Mr. Kufre Ekanem said this commitment could be seen through the company’s support for education, water, health and youth empowerment across the country. The MD/CE said Nigerian Breweries is delighted to have been the sponsors of the competition in the last eight years and commended the African Artists’ Foundation for the energy, commitment and professionalism they have shown in organizing the competition. He also thanked the judges for their investment of their time and knowledge on the project.
It would recalled Nigerian Breweries has sponsored the organisation of the National Art Competition organised by the African Artists’ Foundation for eight consecutive years. This is part of an effort to encourage and promote the development of creativity, arts and artists in Nigeria.