Muraina Akeem’s Metal-Morphosis

By catthews on November 15, 2017


Views: 1,044

Muraino with the 'Bust of Knowledge'
Muraino with the 'Bust of Knowledge'

Metal scraps are what they are - Scraps; they are used metal pieces cast away by human beings, condemned to whatsoever fate the ecosystem may subject them to.

But then steps in another class of human beings who do not disdain these metal junks; and of particular interest are the creative minds called Metal Sculptors, among whom is Muraina Akeem.

Evoking the hidden beauty in scrap metals is the specialization of Muraina, he seeks out these metal scraps, conceptualize and create spectacular structures out of them.

Muraina has works in various medium of arts but his strong bias for the environment and wildlife animals stands him out among his peers. 

Nigeria’s foremost artist, teacher and mentor of several generations of artists, Bruce Onobrakpeya put life into Muraina’s efforts: “Standing at the garden in front of the Niger-Delta Art and Cultural Centre, at Aghaha-Otor in Delta State, the home of the Harmattan Workshop is an imposing metal sculpture of the ‘Head of Reindeer’. 

“Mounted on wood, the Reindeer has welcomed participants, observers and visitors to the workshop since he constructed it in the year 2000 during his first attendance.

“Muraina’s second appearance at the Agbarha-Otor during the 2012 edition shows clearly that he has been consistent in his practice and has grown to be very mature.”

How did Muraina metal-morphose into his present status? General arts, he explained, was his first calling, but things took a sudden turn when he gained admission into the Yaba College of Technology, Yaba, Lagos for his National Diploma (ND) and his Higher National diploma) respectively.

There, he encountered the renowned mental sculptor and art teacher whose works are well known within and outside the country, Olu Amoda.  

It was Amoda, he said, who prodded him on and eventually became his mentor, when it was apparent that mental sculpture comes naturally to him and he was more relaxed at it compared with other forms of art expression.

After school, it was Muraina’s love for the environment and wildlife that eventually got the best of him, this interest lure him into becoming an ‘Environmental Artist’, his 2012 solo exhibition, tagged: ‘The Eden Before Us’ turned out to be the largest collection of wild life animals depicted in metal works anywhere in the world.

Explaining the theme of the exhibition, Muraina stated thus: “The theme of this exhibition as plainly as it suggested refers to the pure state of planet earth before the advent of the man species, respecting the planet/vegetation and the animals, the aftermath of man’s incursion; his misplaced priorities, the pollutions, the decay and the prompt need to re-create the once haven of the mother earth.

“The focus here is on the smallest unit of the marauders, which is one – person i.e., the individuals in you and me. Hoping that this would not only generate a conscious sanity in self but also in relative relations to others in the environment that envelopes our existence.

“Therefore, the advice to learn from the animal species, which is the peculiar content of this exhibition, became one of the paramount corrective measures. It is quite important to pay attention, to listen, to see with childhood innocence and sincerity before the adulthood’s adulterated experiences.”

Muraina’s art works come in different sizes from miniatures to towering sculptures.

Muraina has to his credit many national and international commissions, among them are: the NITEL Logo edifice which stands imposingly in front of the NITEL Headquarters at Okuku, Osun State; in Lekki, Lagos is the bust of late Chief S. L Edu which stands at the Nigerian Conservation Foundation (NCF); the President of the World Wildlife Found (WWF) Hon. Sara Morrison collected an animal sculpture of his for display in United Kingdom (UK) and another stands at the Center for African Art in Paris, France.

The most recent of his outdoor works was commissioned at the University of Ibadan (U.I), Oyo State. The work entitled, ‘Bust of Knowledge’ was sponsored by the U.I Alumni Class ’67.

“It was to commemorate, celebrate and give back something of value, an ‘Icon of Knowledge’ with sanity upstairs i.e. the head which is the seat of production; it was in collaboration with Ayo Arigbabu, an architect.”

The work showcases a human being with five heads, explaining the rationale that informed the work, Muraina said, the five heads represents the five senses of man: sight, smell, hearing, taste and feeling; these five sense, according to Muraina, serve as the channels of learning and should anything go wrong with any or all of them, learning becomes difficult. The bust also has a scroll, which, he explains, as the certificate, the proof of learning.

Muraina’s works are in high demand; he cited one he presented at the ‘October Rains’ 2017, organized by the Society of Nigeria Artists, Lagos Chapter, which depicted a Crocodile with the title ‘Jegudu Jera Somebody’.

The work which was labeled ‘Not For Sale’ has been sold, despite the signage.

The said work, Muraina explained, is a satire to lampoon Nigerian politicians. The crocodile inhabits the waters and the dry land, when it is in the water, it, so to speak, relates well with other species residing in the waters and when it is on the land, behaves the same. And should one consider the saying, ‘Shedding Crocodile Tears’; one would realize that they compare well with the nature of Nigerian politicians who are deceitful and always renege on their promises.

The title ‘Jegudu Jera Somebody’ compares the voracious appetite of the crocodile with the Nigerian politicians’ penchant for embezzlement.

One peculiar aspect of Muraina’s works is that he gives almost all of them indigenous Yoruba names as titles.

He noted that this is necessitated because of the need to stamp the African identity on his works and that it also explains his works better.

Some of his works with such names are ‘Olofofo Yera’ 2010, which depicts two giraffes whispering to each other, it explains the activities of gossipers and the modern age ubiquitous nature of the satellite; ‘Akinkanju’ 2012, this shows a plowing cow, meaning a hard working person; ‘Adigboluja ll’ 2012, this show a ram which he calls the ‘Abraham’s Ram’, Muraina, a devout Muslim, stated that the work shows the faith of Abraham who was ready to sacrifice his son but got a ram in exchange, this he continued, teaches one to be faithful and bold in the practice of one’s faith.

There is also ‘Okanlawon’ that shows a Unicon, a legendary white horse that comes once in an age.

Muraina has sold works for as much as N3 to N4.5million.

He is a member of the Society of Nigerian Artists, Lagos; Artzero Group and Nigerian Conservation Foundation (NCF).

He was honoured with the ‘Distinguished Stewardship Award’ by the Society of Nigerian Artists Lagos Chapter in 2012.

Muraina dedicated a certain percentage of the proceeds from his 2012 Exhibition to “those that life situations have made hopeless, orphans in orphanages and inmates of Juvenile or Reprimand Homes.”

“Paying attention to what is lesser than you that greater things of life may pay attention to you” sums up Muraina’s philosophy.



Source cattnews

Posted 15/11/2017 11:14:17 AM




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