The Sculpture Garden
The Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria has been labeled as one of the biggest university south of Sahara. It is one of the earliest universities established in Nigeria which has contributed to educational development of the nation in various fields: Engineering, sciences, arts, etc. One of the factors which make the university so popular is the fact that, it is located in the ancient city of Zaria which historically is considered as one of the powerful kingdoms in Africa once ruled by a woman: Queen Amina. More importantly, the university is also viewed as the foundation school for the training of modern artists in Nigeria. The Department of Fine Arts, ABU Zaria, is uncontestable the oldest (formal) school of art in Nigeria and probably, among the first three early schools of art in modern Africa.
The department is so unique such that, apart from the quality artistic training the it offers individuals on yearly basis due to the availability of its competent and experienced tutors, it also owns a “Sculpture Garden” which composed of works (mostly) produced by graduating students, particularly from the Sculpture section. The works in the garden, in a way, reveal the quality of the graduates who have passed out of the department over the years, as well as creative diversity inherent in the artistic training given to artists in the department.
Inside the Sculpture Garden, it is common to fine works executed in styles like cubism, realism, abstract, and installation, as well as representing different social themes like religion, politics, culture, military and so on. Example of works in the garden include “Ant Hill”, “Expectation”, and cubist sculptural portraits of some past Nigerian leaders like “Obasanjo”, “Gowon”, and “Buhari”. While at some places in the garden, the bases of the sculptural works are used as seats, in other locations, it is the sculptures themselves that serve as seats for visitors. The natural shed in the garden is complimented by scattered trees which also offer students a restful place to sit and wait for subsequent lectures. There is also a cool spot in the garden where soft drinks are sold. Close to the cool spot is a roasted meat (Suya) joint. All these add to the beauty and comfort of the garden and its visitors respectively.
The Sculpture Garden is one of the hottest points in the university such that, if one visits ABU Zaria without visiting the garden, it is normally assumed that the visit is practically not complete. It is a source of pride not only to the department but also to the university community at large. One thing about the garden is that, the works in durable materials last while those done using un-durable materials tear and wear; and in the long run, they are replaced by new sculptures. This make the garden the have new sculptures every year.