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Right from its inception the Harmattan Workshop became very popular and started to grow beyond its original concept.  It attracted participants from all over the states of Nigeria and from other countries, in particular our neighbours in West Africa – Benin Republic, Togo and Ghana.  Those who participated in the art programmes or benefited from the various activities generated by the workshops or its facilities are beginners and professional artists, art historians, teachers, lecturers, pupils from elementary schools, students from secondary  and tertiary institutions, film makers, musical recorders, tourists, cultural engineers etc.

The Harmattan Workshop thus became the flagship programme of the Bruce Onobrakpeya Foundation.  In order, therefore, to make it easy for participation in the various facets, we provide the information below:

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Our History 

Founded in 1998 by renowned Printmaker, Dr. Bruce Onobrakpeya they are modelled after workshops organized by the German ethnographer Dr. Ulli Beier at Ibadan, Oshogbo and lle-lfe in south west Nigeria, and those of Haystack Mountain School of Arts and Crafts, Deer Isle, Maine, U.S.A., which he attended in the 60s and 70s. The HWS started as an extension of the internship and Industrial Training programmes which still take place in his Lagos studio at Papa Ajao.

The Harmattan Workshops(HWS) are an informal educational setup as a retreat where artists meet, think, work, experiment and share ideas. They are designed to help develop and sustain creative endeavors in the arts, particularly the visual arts.


Workshop sessions take place at the Onobrak Arts Centre, Agbarha-Otor, Delta State, Nigeria. They are administered from No 41, Oloje Street, Papa Ajao, Mushin, Lagos State.

Policy And Management

The Harmattan Workshops constitute the flagship programmes of the Bruce Onobrakpeya Foundation, a registered non-governmental organisation. BOF is governed by a board of Trustees and Advisers who provide the foundation’s general policy and developmental plans. However, its day-to-day operations and the activities of the workshops proper are run by the Founder/ Chairman, an Artistic Director, and a team of Facilitators and Consultants.

Workshop Period

The workshops hold each year in sessions of two weeks each. They start in the middle of February and can go beyond August. The number of sessions depend on availability of funds, and consequently, an advertised session will be cancelled if funds are not available.


Being an informal educational setup, their syllabi and curriculums are neither rigid nor inflexible and there are no permanent staff members. Broadly, the Workshops are divided into two sections: the first section which is both instructive and interactive, and designed for both experienced artists and beginners, starts in the middle of February each year barring unforeseen circumstances. The subjects offered here are subject to the availability of facilitators who can supervise and teach them.

The second session is the August retreat and is designed for artists who use the period to develop their own ideas undisturbed.  Subjects which have been handled so far in the first session include: Painting/ Mixed media, Printmaking, Textiles Design/Fashion, Pottery and Ceramics, Wood Sculpture, Metal Sculpture, Stone Carving, Blacksmithery, Jewelry/ Craft, Computer Training, Photography, Leather Craft, and Bronze Casting.  Participants choose and specialize in one subject in a particular session. They are free to try their hands on other subjects after fulfilling the mandatory requirement in their selected area, if time and materials are available.  Alumni of the Harmattan Workshops with permission could use the etching press for printmaking during the off season.

Collaboration With School And Other Corporate Organizations

Primary and secondary school children and students from higher Institutions visit the centre as fulfilment of their educational requirements, particularly during the workshop sessions. Special prograrmmes are designed by request for secondary schools. Polytechnics and universities. Also, corporate organisations that wish to empower youth in their areas of operation also partner with the BOF as the infrastructure for these are available in the foundation. All these may take place within or outside normal workshop sessions.

Lectures & Presentations

In both February and August workshops, invited experts and participants make presentations in the evenings on given topics. These take the form of seminars, talks, films and slide presentations.

Extra Curricula Activities

During workshops, participants interested find time for devotions every morning, Fridays and Sundays. Physical exercises like jogging and walking, and such recreational activities like swimming, football and table tennis are also available. Participants may also take part in drama or visit places of Interest like the Turf Club in Abraka or generally enjoy the rustic scenery of the Workshops environment.


Facilitators for the various sections of the workshop are carefully selected. These facilitators are also participants who engage in their own creations during the sessions but are looked upon by participants for leadership and instruction during the workshop. The facilitators are drawn from different backgrounds – the academics, professional artists, local craftsmen etc. Special craft programmes are designed to enable participants, in particular from the indigenous community, acquire skills that will enable them have a source of livelihood.

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