Nestled in a beautiful forest on the edge of the city of Osogbo are the Osun Groves, an amazing art part with hundreds of monumental sculptures,that was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2005.
The Osun-Osogbo Sacred Grove is one of the most impressive places in the country —– one of only two UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Nigeria — where tourists and art lovers can visit the monumental sculptures created by the renowned artist, Susanne Wenger, in collaboration with important local Osogbo artists: Adeibisi Akanji, Rabiu Abesu, Kasli Akagbe-Osun and others. These unique sculptures exemplify the artists’ commitment to creating art that reflects the intrinsic culture and traditions of Nigeria.
Many of the sculptures, created between 1960-1980, have been in urgent need of repair and restoration. This motivated the launching tagged “SAVE OUR ART / SAVE OUR HERITAGE” HELD AT IKOYI, LAGOS ON TUESDAY 24TH NOVEMBER, 2015. This has led to the effective restoration and preservation efforts which began in year 2014 and have continued immediately after the launching last year up till the present mainly from proceeds of the same event so as not to risk losing not only the sculptures themselves, but also the important UNESCO World Heritage Site designation.
A specially curated art exhibition, featuring works by leading Nigerian artists, included rare works by Osogbo master artists mentored by Susanne Wenger including: Sangodare Ajala, Adebisi Akanji, Rabiu Abesu, Buraimoh Gbadamosi, Kikelomo and Ajibike Ogunyemi. Important art by Bruce Onobrakpeya, Muraina Oyelami, Jimoh Buraimoh, Nike Okundaye & Tola Wewe, Wura Oguji and Polly Alakija also featured. A photographic tour of the art in this remarkable World Heritage Site, as seen through the lens of leading Nigerian photographer Adolphus Opara, was on display.
The exhibition offered guests a rare opportunity to see the last painting produced by legendary artist Susanne Wenger which was auctioned. This is the first public showing of that significant piece of work.
The auction of a rare batik created by Susanne Wenger, was held to generate funds for the restoration project; proceeds from the exhibition of art Works are also utilized in support of the restoration of the sculptural works of art at the UNESCO site.