Miffed by the growing cases of breast cancer in Nigeria and the need for the less privileged to be screened for early dictation and response, Alexis Galleries, in collaboration with Empire Jane, a firm of soft furnishings, is rallying seven artists for an exhibition to assist Breast Cancer Association of Nigeria (BRECAN) tackle the scourge.
BRECAN is founded by the first lady of Ondo State, Betty Anyanwu Akeredolu, who is expected to flag off the exhibition on October 20, which runs till November 3. It is made possible by consortium of sponsors made up of Pepsi, Delta Airline, Amarula, Nederburg, Cobranet, an Internet Service Provider, Chocolate Royal, The Avenue Suites, The Homestores Limited and Art Café, etcetera.
Briefing art journalists at the Akin Olugbade Street, Off Idowu Martins Street, Victoria Island, Lagos, the location of the galleries, the chief executive officer and curator, Alexis Galleries and The HomeStores, Patty Chidiac-Mastrogiannis, said that part of the proceeds from the exhibition would be donated to BRECAN, adding that it was in honour of all the great women who had fought and were fighting to survive the breast cancer scourge as well as those who couldn’t win their battle.
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She said, “It is time to give back to the society. From now on, every exhibition we might have through our annual exhibition, titled Bold is Beautiful, would be devoted to something like that. It should not always be all about receiving. It is time to embark on corporate social responsibility (CRS) initiatives with art, by giving back to the society that has helped to make us. And we are partnering with BRECAN to start the fight.”
The theme of the exhibition is “Faces and Places 11”. The curator explained, “We had ‘Faces and Places 1’ last years. ‘Face and Places’ is dedicated to my mother who had cancer at very late age of 75. She is 81 now. She went through chemotherapy for one year.
“It affected her kidney, heart, ears and other parts of her body. We saw her suffer and go bald. Words cannot describe the emotional trauma we went through,” she disclosed.
On the strength of the partnership with Empire Jane, she hinted, “Empire Jane will print the artists’ paintings into craft works of couch cover and throw pillows. Each artist is showcasing two paintings each and with their consent, the soft furnishings with the paintings on them would be sold alongside their artworks.”
She said that the exhibition was basically to respond to the breast cancer menace through art, adding, “We believe that art is beautiful and Nigeria is basically the heartbeat of art. We also believe in associating art for every response to help BRECAN and every other cancer foundation. Hopefully, the donation from the proceeds of the exhibition to the BRECAN, will help in creating awareness and perhaps assist the less privileged people have a screen and checked up,” Chidiac-Mastrogiannis remarked.
She noted that the galleries was going to be having more of such partnerships with a lot of charitable organisations towards helping the needy adding that the six artists were not new to the galleries except the seventh; Samuel Olayombo who was exhibiting at the galleries for the first time.
“He is one discovery of the exhibition who has been into tattoo art for a while without a purposeful direction but, finally, got his act right; thus, becoming more focused. Now, he has a direction on paintings,” the curator explained.
For Joanna Boer, the chief Executive officer Empire Jane, and the printmaker of the artworks on couch cover and furniture throws, she has been in the craft work for five years. She explained, “I feel there was a gap on high quality locally made Nigerian home furnishings. When I started Empire Jane five years ago, I found there was the need to fill this gap and create works that showcase Nigeria positively.
“Though I didn’t have a good story background but thanks to Chidiac-Mastrogiannis who brought fresh pointers after I had hired some tailors and went to work with mindset of pieces of the highest quality. We had craft works of throw pillows with inscriptions like ‘No wahala,’ No Hurry in Life,’ and others that portrayed ‘molue,’ Nigeria’s foremost means of mass transit before Bus Rapid Transit came on board.
“This is my second collaboration with Alexis Galleries; but, before that, I had established myself with some original craft works made of local fabrics with different inscriptions like ‘Map of Nigeria,’ which is highly informative and would aid children understand the topography of the country.