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In ‘Mentopedia’, arts, urban design fuse with mental health

Lagos Traffic by Akindejoye

Between July 29 and 31, 2021, an unusual group exhibition held at the Federal Neuro-Psychiatric Hospital, Yaba, Lagos. The first ever art show at the hospital, which is over a century old.

Tagged, ‘Mentopedia’, it was a fusion of urban design, health and art.

One of the artists, Funmi Akindejoye, said that there is a correlation or relationship between arts and mental health.

Speaking at the opening of the show, Akindejoye stated, ‘“Mentopedia is a metaphoric word for brain and mental health prevention encyclopaedia.”

She said, “the exhibition touches on a relatively under-recognised aspect of public health, the built environment/design and its impact on brain health and wellbeing.”

Akindejoye, who is also a public health specialist and researcher with interest in planetary health, said the show interprets and showcases results from her recent study on ‘Urban Design & Mental Health, Lagos as a case study.’

According to her, “the aim of the exhibition is to enlighten professionals in the built environment, health sector and sustainability practitioners on the importance of urban design to health and educate the public on the positive impact of green spaces to their mental health.”

Continuing, she said that in line with the study results, one respondent stated that: “As a planner, if you look at Lagos, I am sure you will find areas that are zoned for green spaces in the original master plan, but they do not exist. They have been commercialised rapidly.”

Some of her works include, Lagos Traffic (24 x 24 inches, mixed media, 2021), Long way togo (24 x 24 inches, mixed media, 2021), Garden of my mind (24 x 24 inches, mixed media, 2021) and Biodiversity Grid (27 x 13 inches, Mixed media, 2018).

Explaining the works, she said, “An average Nigerian knows that one word that accompanies the country’s commercial capital, Lagos is: traffic. The heavy traffic congestion that characterises Lagos State impacts negatively on the mental health and well being of its citizen more than anything.

“It’s a long way expresses the need to explore Non motorized transportation (NMT) without fear of being ran over by moving vehicle or one’s security. As an advocate for healthy lifestyle, we hope and look forward to the NMT policy passed into law in Lagos, Nigeria,” she noted.

For Aje Samson Olatunji, his art mirrors human experiences through stories that were influenced by his cravings and childhood memories that impacted and influenced his perception of the society. His works can be perceived as a satirical attempt to discuss social issues using literary devices.

With ‘news ‘news ‘news print’ series’ he engages the society in conversations and stories using himself as a point of vulnerability and thus healing from the traumas of his past.

The exhibition also featured works of Israel Padonu and Omon S. Igbinovia.

The exhibition attracted patients within the facility, occupational therapists and members of staff, art enthusiasts and other facility visitors, who were greatly inspired by the beautiful artworks.

In this article:
Funmi AkindejoyeMentopedia
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