Lex Ash has a passion for Arts and the idea of building brands, converting ideas to businesses and helping to contribute to global development. He is pushing the boundaries of art towards unending learning and aesthetic expressions, both for clients and for the sake of Art in itself; telling stories that literally touch, sharing thoughts, dispersing knowledge.
- So, you are a Photographer, Documentarian, Graphics Artist, Content Developer and more. Tell us about yourself and your journey so far?
I’m Chidi Ashimole, second of four, a Christian, graduate of Covenant University. I’m passionate about God, People and Art. The journey has been interesting, more like a learning experience. All of it has been learning in phases and broadening my knowledge scope on things in and around me.
- It appears you started off pretty early on this path, is this accurate? What would you say that has yielded for you along your journey so far?
I don’t think I started early enough. I just look younger than I am. I was in the university when I started really pursuing my passions. What has yielded most for me are the connections I’ve made in my journey so far. For me, knowing the right people is essential.
- You are quite versatile and you explore several themes with your photography and work generally; from fashion, music, and of course love. Do you agree photography is a powerful tool that can be used to shape positive outcomes for the African continent, especially as regards Arts and Culture?
Definitely. I think the power of imagery is still underemphasized here in Africa. Not just in Art and culture, but all round. Images move our inner beings, expresses our feels, preserves the past and predicts the future. We can create and bring things into existence, change notions and ideas and influence decisions. By showing someone a quick picture, I was able to convince her without words to make a decision on a meal. That is the power of images.
- Photography unlike a decade ago in Nigeria, is now being considered a viable career option, what are some of the peculiar challenges you have faced in your work so far, and how have you been able to overcome them?
I’ve really encountered one challenge that I think is most prominent. We are yet to fully embrace respect for Art in Nigeria. This for me is the root cause. From it stems people not wanting to pay for it, to people who aren’t really interested in the arts also seeing it as an opportunity to make money and so on. It’s hard to be a respected artist in Nigeria. If there was respect for it, people would be able to finish high school and go to the university to major in Pure Art courses, but as of today, only a few Polytechnics offer these. What I’m doing now, to overcome them is to sensitize people about the Arts I’m involved in, and put value to it. In the future, I hope to start an institution that focuses purely on Art related courses in the same vein as schools that offer Engineering and the likes.
- You have expressed your sincere passion for your country Nigeria, and in 2014 started a campaign themed #IAmNigeria. What inspired that project and is it still active?
First, I didn’t start the #IAmNigeria initiative, I was part of the team that started it. The project was one that stemmed from the tribal wars that’s been keeping us apart in Nigeria for so long. It also was strategically begun at the time that led to the 2015 elections which people feared was going to be immensely ridden with disaster and potential divisions. We wanted people to embody the spirit of our country, rather than see Nigeria as a distant idea, or government. The project is still active and there are still avenues being pursued to help ingrain it in the minds of Nigerians.
- Across the continent of Africa and beyond, there are passionate young people who are frustrated by the existing systems in their different nations, just like you have in Nigeria. What would you say is the best way to galvanize youth effort across the continent to drive positive outcomes across Africa?
The Youth should start among themselves to change what they want to see changed. We keep complaining about the government and the system and yet keep in our own capacities, contributing to the problem instead of creating the solution. It’s as little as littering the roads or paying and receiving bribes in making decisions in our smaller capacities. The saying, “Be the change you want to see in the world” hasn’t ever been more true.
- A lot continues to be said about the rise of Africa, the ‘Africa Rising’ narrative it is called. Do you agree that Africa is indeed rising? If so, what are the changing realities, scenarios and events that inform your conviction that Africa is indeed a continent on the rise?
Africa is on the rise. It’s obvious in our thought processes and how it’s influencing our decisions. People are beginning to speak up and not take things as they are. Acceptance is still improving and our passions are being given expression. We are now taking charge of our own lives and aren’t waiting for or expecting anyone to help us anymore. We are taking charge. This feeling hasn’t ever been so strong.
- You are a Creative Entrepreneur who cares about Arts and Culture, Economic Empowerment, Environment, Science and Technology, and Children. Also, since 2013 you have been a volunteer with the group H.O.P.E (Helping Other People Excel). Is it right to refer to you as a kind of social advocate, and should we expect to see this begin to reflect in your photography and work soon?
I am a social advocate of sorts. For me, life isn’t about making things great for yourself. I believe I’m here to serve others, to create solutions that would make life better for other people. My life and work definitely reflects that. And I am passionate about it. I am working on projects that definitely does that and it’s what I do.
- When you imagine the future of photography in Nigeria and Africa, what do you see?
I imagine…no, I foresee a time when Nigerian and African photographers actually comprise of true artists that can compete comfortably on a global stage, that can be relevant everywhere. I see Nigerian and African Artists being recognised globally and their work being valued without bias or segregation.
- What should Africa look forward to from you soon? What is the next big thing you are working on right now?
As at the time of this interview, I’m planning a gallery showcase of my work. I recently launched my website and I’ll be announcing sales of my Art soon. I’m working towards bigger projects you’ll learn about soon. The roll out is underway, and with time, everyone will learn about it.