The Department of Creative Arts, University of Lagos, on Tuesday, July 4, 2023, hosted a seminar presentation by two (2) academics of the University of Exeter, United Kingdom: Williams Gallois and Tom Trevor.
The scholars had earlier paid a courtesy visit to the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Folasade Ogunsola OON, FAS, who was represented by Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Development Services, Professor Ayodele Atsenuwa at the Senate House of the university.
The hybrid (virtual and physical) session which was held at the Faculty of Arts Board Room was convened by a former Head of Creative Arts Department, Professor Adepeju Layiwola. It was attended by Faculty members and the Director, Institute of African and Diaspora Studies, Professor Muyiwa Falaiye, among others.
In her remarks, Professor Layiwola applauded the two international guests for their commitment to promoting knowledge across borders noting that “the presentations will be subjects of academic reference for academia”.
Williams Gallois who is a Professor of Islamic Mediterranean and Faculty Director of Research Culture and Environment for Humanities and Social Sciences delivered a presentation on “New Currents in African Arts Histories” while Tom Trevor, an Associate Professor of Contemporary Art and Curation Programme Director for MA Curation: Contemporary Art and Cultural Management, gave a presentation on “Atlantica: Towards a Transatlantic Festival of Contemporary Art and Cultural Enquiry”
In his presentation, Professor Williams Gallois pointed out that the perceptions of division between Africa and Islamic arts can sometimes be as pervasive and unhelpful as those which are assumed to exist between African and Western arts.
Professor Gallois used a series of examples from the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, which explored the ways in which Islamic visual culture in the Mediterranean world were influenced by African pictorial forms and aesthetic sensibilities.
According to him, “such interchange was far from unidirectional, for at this moment, transnational borrowing in painting and printing was of paramount importance in West African sites such as in Senegal and among the Magherebi locales such as Algeria and Tunisia.”
Professor Williams advocated review of the artistic exchange and linkages (historic and contemporary) between regions which are now assumed to constitute separate cultural worlds.
While delivering his paper, Tom Trevor disclosed that his Atlantica project is envisaged as a recurring festival of contemporary arts and cultural enquiry, adding that the project which he carried out in Plymouth, United Kingdom will serve as a pilot phase to a much fuller version which will be launched in 2026.
Reiterating his readiness to work with other artists, musicians, writers and communities on the project, Tom Trevor explained that Atlantica aims to re-examine various aspects of the historical antecedence of the Atlantic from diverse contemporary perspectives, challenge Eurocentric colonial narratives and open up multiple possible worlds. According to him, “starting from local, place-based cultural inquiry, each edition will aim to build transnational dialogues between communities of shared interests, place to place and people to people, examining different versions of the Atlantic and in the process, retell stories of places so as to overcome barriers to social justice, health, wellbeing and environmental sustainability”.