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Peju Alatise’s Alter Native Artists Initiative Aims to Bring a New Dimension to Ceramics in Nigeria

The ceramic industry in Nigeria, if at all standing, has been doing so on the verge of an unreliable cliff. The country, akin to dying of thirst by the brook, lives in an abundance of clay, the chief raw material which is readily available in most parts of the country but spends in imports of ceramics over 600 million USD. But this is about to change in the field of art. On the 4th of November 2017, the Alter Native Artists Initiative, ANAI a custodian of longstanding creative and cultural industries with a focus on ceramics, will be launched.

The ANAI Foundation is founded by the internationally renowned artist Peju Alatise whose experience spans over 13 years in the art world. In May, her sculptural pieces titled ‘Flying Girls’ which comprised an installation of eight winged life-sized girls encircled by birds and leaves were exhibited along with the works of Victor Ehikhamenor and Qudus Onikeku’s performance at the 57th Venice Biennial in which Nigeria made her debut. In September, she was the winner of the coveted 2017 FNB Art Prize.

Nothing strikes a chord in the minds of viewers and followers like the uniqueness of Alatise’s works and the determination of the artist in delivering something beyond the ordinary in spite of time, effort and cost. But it is only evident that Alatise, who is also an architect and writer, and who explores different media in art, sets out to achieve whatever she wants to achieve. Prior to her announcement of ANAI on Instagram, a 2016 interview with Al Jazeera describes her focus on building an artist’s residency –a structure which she designed with the capacity to house three artists in an open planned studio, living quarters and a library.

Alter Native Artists Initiative will house a ceramics studio that creates indigenously crafted ceramics goods and hopes to set a pace for ceramics micro industries across Nigeria. As a residency, it will provide a space for engaging in experimental and contemporary projects and serve as a training resource for emerging and established artists.

According to the initiative, the term Alter Native is coined from ‘alternative’ with the purpose of bridging the gap between formal art education in the country –in this sense, what is native to the Nigerian artist with respect to rules they have been taught to follow, and heights that are obtainable in world-class standards.

For more details and update on the launch, follow ANAI on Instagram @anai.foundation.

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Nnenna is an editor and writer at Connect Nigeria. She loves fine art, books and places.

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