Tuesday, 16 February 2016

William Eluagu on his artwork, 'Your Destiny is in Your Hands'

William Eluagu is graduate of Fine Art (Sculpture)  from Yaba College of Technology, Yaba, Lagos, Nigeria. His artwork, 'Your Destiny is in Your Hands'  which was his HND project recently became the talk of the time, so much more that it got featured in Linda Ikeji Blog, the most popular blog in Africa. Eluagu is a full time studio artist with interest in art, architectural finishing and conceptual designs in furniture and events decor. In this exclusive interview, Eluagu opens up on the idea behind 'Your Destiny is in Your Hands', his interests in art and how his experience has spanned for thirteen years starting in 2003. He, however has a whole lot lined up, do well to watch out for me. At the main time, have a nice read...




What prompted your desire to be an artist? :  Art flows in my blood. It's a gift of God to me to give and share with the world. It is my 'akaraaka' (my destiny and calling). I have a strong feel and connection that I have been created for art. While in Primary School, I was known for my art works. Though, my peers draw for fun or play, perhaps just to show off, I would go to a corner and draw like it was business or a prayer, not expecting any admiration, but soon my peers would leave their works to appreciate mine, they would form a crowd around me and I would steal my friend's show. They would leave their drawings and watch me as spectators. I would draw the same object or theme they were drawing but unconsciously add more details. I am a perfectionist naturally. What I draw not only look like the subject, but looks like I photo-copied it in size, gesture, colour, texture. And then, before I finish, pupils are bidding for the drawing. I can not say what exactly prompted me to be an artist, all I know is it is WHO and WHAT I am. I was created for it. Although in secondary school I was a science student. I loved mathematics and chemistry and was always among the best 10 students, I had my O/Levels in one sitting, I was still an artist. Many of my then classmates, love to borrow my note because of my almost photographic drawing and diagram which they sometimes view like a photo-album. I finished secondary school in 2002, at age 17 and in 2003, I became an apprentice in Universal Studio of Art, Iganmu for 3 wonderful years, and in 2006 I entered Yaba on merit to study General-Art for my ND programme which ran from 2006 to 2008, and I studied Sculpture as a major in my HND from 2011 to 2013. Art is the air I breath, the food I eat, the water I drink, and everything I do and I thank God for this gift.   

What inspired your recent work, 'Your Destiny is in Your Hands'? : Your Destiny is in your Hands was inspired by my desire  to try to use what everyone call 'waste or useless' to create something the same people can treasure and the desire to inspire people with the words 'Your Destiny is in  Your Hands' and to create something novel and unpopular.   

What informed your choice of colours for the design of the work and what do they symbolise? :  The colours were not planned but adopted, since each soft drink has a unique brand colour for their bottles. The general physical colour of the sculptural piece is green and white, including the colourless bottles. The green symbolizes fertility, abundant wealth and opportunities endowed upon man by God to explore, while white (colourless bottles) symbolizes the character; honesty and truthfulness that man must exhibit alongside his skills in order to attain success and reach his destiny. The light, that comes on at night symbolizes the ambience of success that radiates and enlighten the world and positively touching and influencing lives but which results only from a dream or destiny working with true character.   

While working on the project, what challenges did you encounter and how were you able to beat those challenges? : The challenges were lack of adequate information and practical examples on techniques needed to carry out the PET bottle project, since it is a novel idea that is unpopular in Africa and world over; lack of adequate funds especially as I was a student then and then, unpredictable and unmeasurable outcome, since the idea is new. Proper planning, logistics  and scheduling was difficult, all these resulted to taking unnecessary time and resources wastage.   

Considering the massive attention the project got, a lot of expectations are mounted on you, how do you go about it? : Based on the attention, I thank God, the almighty for it. I am calm as much as possible in order to plan and carry out new concepts I have been developing since 2013 till now. So, soonest, we shall all see novel installations and full exhibitions on current issues from me, God willing. They will blow the mind and the world.   
Was there at any time, you considered abandoning the project for any thing and what were the reasons you continued with it? : Yes, at a time I almost abandoned the project because I was in deep pressure to deliver since I started late and then I had a client who contracted me to sculpt the heads of a late couple on my neck. Also, I was assisting about five other students in their projects and all these were sucking me dry and I was greatly stressed. But as God would have it, I overcame. I was motivated and inspired by God, I wanted to do something different and work it through to the end, I wanted to leave a legacy and inspire students and people who would come across it.   

What projects are you working on presently and when would you be unveiling them? : Right now, I am gathering discarded PET bottles to start my installation at different public places and centres and I am working on exhibition pieces portable enough for collectors, friends and enthusiast to collect. God willing, I would have show all through the year focused on various national and international festive seasons.   

Role model(s) : My first art tutors; Ms. Fasan, Mr. Olusegun Adejumo, Mr. Olaku A., Mr. Olubunmi, my lecturers; Mr. Emmanuel Irokanulo, Mr. El Anasazi, Mr. Adeola Balogun, Mr. Olu Amoda. Some foreign artist like Pablo Picasso, and Michaelangelo.   

What and what do you do in an attempt to improve your expertise? : To improve my expertise, I  pray, read and think, go to selected exhibitions, set targets for myself and try to reach it.

What challenges do you face as an artist in Nigeria? : Lack of power supply is one of my challenges as an artist, as it increases cost of production and also may affect total delivery time of work due to reliance on light. No government support and involvement especially through the ministries of culture and ministries of tourism or environment. There are no maintenance of some of the countries' artifacts and art edifies. There's also the challenge of sky-rocketing increase in cost of materials due to importation and fluctuating foreign exchange rates and there's a very low, although growing awareness and interest in visual art and culture appreciation by the Nigerian populace due to poor basic knowledge of art, little or no media involvement.


Your words to other budding artists :  These words, I also say to myself, put all hope, trust and faith in God for divine inspiration and wisdom; embracing all virtues especially humility and concentration on personal and career goals. Have dreams and aspirations and make moves daily to achieve them. Young artists should not focus too much on money and tag outrageous price on their art pieces in order to encourage people with interest in their work(s) to collect them. They should never rely or wait for agencies or government, but must start doing things on their own no matter how small.

You can reach William Eluagu on  : 
EMAIL: willicocreator@gmail.com 
Twitter : @williameluagu 
Instagram : @williameluagu

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