By Pelu Awofeso

World Environment Day (WED) is commemorated on June 5 every year. In the week leading to this event, activists around the world put together diverse events to draw attention to issues on (and about) the environment.

The theme for this year’s WED, “Think. Eat. Save”, emphasizes the effects of man’s culture of waste on the environment. Several environment activists across the world use diverse means–ranging from the arts, sports, technology and entertainment–to drive home this message.

In spite of the mid-morning torrents on Saturday June 1, about 30 artists participated in an outdoor painting event put together by the fast growing art group, the Plein Air Society of Nigeria, at the University of Lagos (UNILAG) Waterfront to observe this year’s World Environment Day.

The Environment (Freedom Park) by Toyin Alade

“The art of Plein Air, a French word which means painting in the open air is a traditional fine art practice which is very popular in Europe and the United States of America and dates back to the days of the early impressionists,” says the convener Olorunfemi Adedeji, as the painters got to work. “This professional art genre draws the artist closer to his environment through spontaneous application of colours in response to fleeting changes in the atmospheric conditions. This has been a very useful means for the artist to stimulate his senses, savour his environment and produce richly fresh and captivating paintings from nature.”

The Environment (UNILAG waterfront)

This is the second time this group will be painting in commemoration of the World Environment Day, the first being onJune 5, 2012 at the Muri Okunola Park, Victoria Island, Lagos. “Early Nigerian Masters like Ben Enwowu and Abayomi Barber amongst others did practice en plein air painting,” says Olatunde Barber, one of the organisers, encouraging the younger generation of Nigerian artists to embrace plein air painting as “it remains a very useful means of truthfully documenting our culture, environment and developing our skills as painters”.

When asked if the group only paints on World Environment days, Adedeji says “the group organizes outdoor painting events, painting tours and workshop from time to time for the plein air community and art enthusiasts in all weather throughout the year”.

Participants at this year’s WED edition included some established studio artists like Muyiwa Akinwolere, Emeka Nwagbara, Salako Olajide and Dipeolu Hakim Akanni.

The Environment (Nigeria)

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