From Artiste to farmer – Foluso Oguntoye in I Am A Creative Series
Foluso Oguntoye is 23 years old from Lagos, Nigeria. He has been living in the UK for 7 years and graduated last year with a degree in Fine Art from Manchester Metropolitan University. He is a man of many interests, he considers himself an artist and a farmer/gardener. In this interview, we discussed the influences on his creativity, how he expresses it and the importance of growth.
What does being a creative mean to you and how do you express it?
Being a creative means being who you are called to be and manifesting that as best as you can. Our God who created us is a creator by nature and if we are made in His image and likeness, then we all ought to express that inherited nature in whatever way shape or form. Within us is a creative solution to problems, making the world around us more beautiful and making life better for everyone. Unfortunately, some people live their lives boxed in by themselves or others and don’t allow themselves to express and be creative. That’s how I see it. Being and bringing out your authentic, original inner treasure in whatever ways, forms and streams. Use what you have and make something out of it. It is not just art and music and poetry and theatre. It’s everything.
What has been the highlight of your creative journey so far?
The highlight of my creative journey has been finding myself and growing. It also includes my exhibition last year, my final degree show and how much things have developed. God redirected me further and helped me birth a form, format, vision, message from that period which I’m still exploring and building on. Now, It is a fusion of Still life, botanical and figurative art. Another highlight has always been the times we would get together to put an exhibition everything from the venue, to the publicity and setting up food and drinks has been a great experience by itself.
What role does your faith play in how you express your creativity?
It plays a significant role. My faith in God is what leads me in what I do. God gives me vision, inspiration and direction. People say they find that within themselves which is very valid. As for me I continuously recognise I am in God and He is in me, so whatever good comes from me, I acknowledge it to be from and inspired by God. I do it how I am led. I can only thank God for what I have been able to do so far and I look forward to more.
Within us is a creative solution to problems, which makes life better for everyone.
What do you hope for or intend to capture with your still life paintings?
I hope and intend to capture some sort of nostalgia and past cultural heritage and identity and at the same time an ideal romanticised future/present. To add another more important layer, I hope to somehow portray our spiritual heritage and identity in God, through Christ Jesus, one that truly is and always will be and is even yet to become more glorious.
What influences your decision on what you choose to paint?
My identity both culturally and spiritually, people, the truth, emotions, the pure sake and love of beauty. It all starts with me first, what is within me.
God gives me vision, inspiration and direction.
What is your creative process like?
Well, I’m the kind of person who has so many ideas scattered around in my head to the point overload sometimes. I get excited a lot and have had to slow down, take notes, document, sketch, record and figure things out and structure them. I always get visuals of what I want to do, or sounds or lines of songs or just something new to explore or check out. I then have to find a way to express them in ways that makes sense. I’m a bit messy so I have projects and things I’ve started and not finished scattered here and there. I’m gradually bringing it all, including myself together. It’s fun.
Would your creativity be different if you didn’t have a relationship with God?
Yes it would be. I wouldn’t have taken the direction I am on now if not for Him. It is always different with God. We can all have our ideas and dreams and ambitions but it is God that knows it all and can perfect us to an even glorious place than we could ever think of and fine tune and reveal the exact purpose and direction that is best for us. There is more in us and in life, but there is more in and with God.
What influenced your decision to be a farmer and how did you go about the journey?
It wasn’t even me or my idea. It came out of nowhere. It was even a surprise to me. All God. God led me into it and as I move forward, He keeps enlarging the vision. I became intensely drawn towards agriculture/horticulture and I knew it was God directing me.
I knew I had to do it or else I wouldn’t be at rest. So I just moved forward with it. I didn’t really have a set plan. Initially, I was just going to go the artist route only, spend a little time here in the UK and go back to Nigeria to continue regardless, which is still my intention.
When I started studying agriculture, I constantly researched the internet about what it is, what to do and where to go and contacted whom I could. Somehow, I found my way into volunteering at a garden, working on a farm for a period, visiting other farms and eventually now doing a 2 year apprenticeship at a farm. Immersing myself in it all has helped build my experience and passion. There is still a long journey ahead of me but all is well.
What would you say to young black people to encourage them to consider farming?
I would say, to think big and not be afraid to think big. Look wider. Now and the future relies on farming more than you think and there are not enough young people in it. There has been progress but there can be more. We need to look to more diverse ways of being a solution to the world we live in no matter how little.
I’m not saying it is easy but there is more to life than getting money and getting a job in an office even though a lot of office jobs are relevant and important. Each to their own. God is a God of purpose, intention, grace and favour. Agriculture is not always easy but can be when you love it. It is necessary. It is so much fun and beautiful. It encourages community and so many things can come out of it.
We have so much on this earth that God has given to us and especially in Nigeria, Africa. We need to become more responsible and fully utilise and possess our resources, not for someone else to come and do it for us or take it from us. There is a lot of hunger and poverty to be eradicated. There are places and environments to be preserved and improved for us all to still live well. We need more stewards of the earth and all that is in it. It’s okay to be different, it’s okay to work with your hands. With Agriculture there is health, wealth, culture and beauty many do not know and have lost touch with. You will reap your reward. I pray and believe that God will plant seeds in the heart of young people to get into agriculture, organic, natural to be precise. It is actually happening already.
Finally, on a lighter note, if you could describe yourself in one word, what would it be?
I think my Instagram name sums it up, who I am. Lush-soul-Folu. Lush means rich, abundant, luxurious especially attributed to plants and vegetation, and of course I am the soul, Folu. This is all because I feel and know I have so much in me to show and give. A lot of ideas, love, resources, light and more through the different things I do and am interested in and my personality, who I am.
I am soulfol or soulful because I am full and passionate. When I gave myself this name i had no idea where it came from and didn’t give much thought to it. It was nice but I hope my experience inspires others.
‘I am a creative’ series aims to challenge the pre-conceived idea of being a ‘creative’ through various content and interviews with young talented individuals. We showcase the different ways that creativity can be expressed whilst promoting and celebrating what creatives are doing. We discuss topics affecting young creatives and challenge people to identify and express the creative nature within them even in unconventional and counter cultural ways.
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