Culture journalist Evelyn Osagie is taking an experimental leap into mainstream art. On Saturday 12 September some of her photographs—taken while reporting various events in Nigeria—will feature in a group exhibition at the GreenHouse Art Empowerment Centre in Olambe in Ogun State.
Also exhibiting are Princess Theresa Iyase-Odozi (exhibition’s curator), Dr. Mabel Oluremi Awogbade, Stella Awoh, K.K.Olojo, Juliet Ezenwa Pearce, Bolaji Ogunwo, Stella Ubigho, and Oke Ibem Oke, all of who specialize in different artistic skills ranging from Installations through Textile to mixed-media.
Inspired by two renowned female artists, Lauren Greenfield and Elisa Paloschi, Osagie brings her experiences covering the arts/culture sector to bear in her photography. “I have always imagined photograph as unspoken MEMORY garnished with experience. Whether it is a walk down a hill with a friend, the serene town resting in between mountains or the embrace of two iconic poets, each image is a memory of diverse tales in man’s existence,” she says.
Osagie’s photographs (subjects include politics, tourism, culture and religion), rendered in both monochrome and coloured formats, will hang next to works by 11 other artists, including the renowned octogenarian sculptor and print-maker Professor Bruce Onobrakpeya, water-colorist Sam Ovraiti and pottery/ ceramic artist Ato Arinze.
“The photographs are not your typical professionally framed images,” she tells me in a phone conversation few days before the exhibition will open to the public. “They are documentary in nature. One of them I’ll call a masterpiece: it shows Prof. Wole Soyinka embracing Odia Ofeimun at an event at the NIIA in 2010 when the latter turned 60. Both men stood in front of the Nigerian flag.”
Before now, Osagie—she is currently a Senior Correspondent with the Nation newspaper—thought of her photographs as mere complements to her articles. “I simply used them to express my stories, but now I see them as a way to express myself,” she says.
Is she by any chance seeing herself as a photojournalist? “Not quite. In simple terms, I have discovered that photography is one of my passions. I have evolved from doing photography as a hobby to photographing as an art. In the near future, I will be doing a lot of philanthropy work and concentrate on using my photography to advocate for women- and children-related causes. I am interested in life, in people and in places of interest.”
And talking of places of interest, one of Osagie’s photographs in the exhibition is of the iconic and arty house where the late Suzanne Wenger lived in Osogbo (Osun State); it is situated a short distance from the famed Osun Grove, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. “My reason for including it is primarily to draw government’s attention to the building. It deserves to be protected and preserved as a national monument.”
The Theme for the exhibition is: Nigerian Visual Artists and Politics and will be open till 30 November.