'Greener Pastures' brings together photography, video documentary and painting: The exhibition by Bolaji Alonge, Sola Otori and friends takes place at Didi Museum in Lagos

Deep inside Epe, along the Lagos lagoon, more than 145 villages are tucked away far from the bustling city life.

Fishing trail Bolaji Alonge 2018

They have been left behind and are now held hostage by the consequences of a race to modernity. Women are giving birth depending on nature only and their children are growing up, waiting for power and education, hoping for the future.

Basic sanitation is absent since the source of drinking water, the lagoon, also serves as the main conduit for waste disposal.

Lagos is a vast expanse of rainforests, lagoons, creeks and estuaries from East to West with substantial coastal terrain, uniquely positioned above the Gulf of Guinea. It is both a place of interest and enigma. It is a taste of the Amazon and deep rainforests in South East Asia combined, the viridescence cannot go unnoticed.

Epe is situated on the East of the city, rich in aquatic life with parts of it still natural and timeless. The greenery of Epe extends to the surface of the lagoon as an invasive seaweed has taken over the horizon, stopping life in its tracks.

As far as the eye can see, water hyacinth creates the sensation of endless green fields peppered with brilliant lilac flowers. In the coastal villages in Epe adults are worried about access to work and health care, blocked by water hyacinth that has taken over a great part of daily life destroying canoes and fishing nets.

Children are oblivious of these perils and play happily, grateful to be released from school and showing off their summersaults. While many leave these villages to look for a better life in the city, other newcomers make it their home.

This project is a derivative of the pilot study on Lagos Coastal Health that documented the health issues of people along the Lagos lagoon coastline.

Bolaji Alonge (Eyes of a Lagos Boy) says: “This project started in January 2018 and is the result of a collective desire to contribute to a better future for these communities. The challenges faced by locals are universal, while being compounded by external factors.

"We were also inspired by artists such as Claude Monet and his water lilies, Venice and its water ambulances, and parallels between the water shrines and the Itsukushima Shrine in Japan.

"The documentary captures never-seen images of these communities and gives a platform to its inhabitants. The beauty of the art works is in sharp contrast with the stark reality of these villagers, invisible as a result of predatory seaweed and lack of political will. It is a call for help, an alarm signal that cannot be ignored.”

You can watch the documentary here:

Proceeds from sales of art and photography will contribute to buying books for local schools and other initiatives that address the urgent needs of these communities.

Bolaji Alonge is an artist, photographer and actor from Lagos, Nigeria with more than two decades of experience in documenting history, looking for beauty where it is least expected.

Bolaji Alonge’s visual language speaks of the wonders of nature and human exchange and searches for historical continuity in a world that is fractured.

He shows his beloved Lagos from unexpected angles, a city that inspires and captivates imagination, Images of everyday life in Nigeria carry deep social messages that expose fragility and audacity. Bolaji makes the viewer reconsider what we have seen with our own eyes, through the Eyes of a Lagos Boy.

In May 2017, Bolaji organized his “Eyes of a Lagos Boy” photo exhibition at Freedom Park in Lagos. His second solo exhibition “Urban Culture – Historical Continuity” was held at One Draw Gallery, Ikoyi, Lagos in November 2018. In February 2019, Bolaji showcased his work at Baza Studio in New York.

A third solo exhibition, “Black & White” was held at Quintessence, Lagos in July 2019. This project is realized in collaboration with Sola Otori, a multidisciplinary artist exploring cultural diversity in Africa and the issues of religion and spiritualism, politics and power as they affect marginalized communities. He works in photography, painting and film.

His work shows both the beauty of his land and culture as well as the need for social positive change.

Sola received his training first as an apprentice at the ‘Abayomi Barber School of Thought’, University of Lagos and Art and Design at Yaba College of Technology.

He established his multimedia studio, working on photography assignments and commissioned art projects, with exhibitions in Lagos, Kampala and Johannesburg. In 2014, he studied digital film making at the SAE Institute Cape Town South Africa.

Driven by a strong sense of the importance of equal opportunities for every child, he initiated the “Silent Majority” project, a creative art/ photography workshop for street orphans, the socially deprived or displaced and teenagers in juvenile detention or correctional facilities.

PRESS VIEW | Thursday 16 September – 12 noon

OPENING RECEPTION | Saturday 18 September 2pm – 7pm

KIDS PLAY - ART AND PHOTOGRAPHY WORKSHOP | Saturday 25 September 11am PUBLIC DEBATE AND FINISSAGE | Sunday 26 September 3pm

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