“Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.” – Pablo Picasso.
Nairobi is a canvassing hub for great pieces of art. Every day you see fliers and posters for events of all kinds of art-inspired events; from poetry, musical showcases to art galleries, Nairobi’s youth is among the privileged in Eastern Africa to drown in one of the greatest gifts life can give – art.
For the 3rd year running, Alliance Francaise Nairobi hosted the Afrika Handmade Gallery, an initiative by Craft Afrika that is an artisan and design installation for home & garden. The 2 week showcase opened on the Sunday October 2nd and ran until 16th October 2016 (including Saturdays and Sundays) and was set to strengthen domestic market opportunities for local home interior brands.
Featuring a prefabricated living pod, 15 new home decor collections and fine art from one of Kenya’s leading contemporary art galleries, the 2016 edition whose theme was Homegrown Design: Inspired by Kenya for the World aimed to create a fresh perspective of creative thinking to not just creatives, but the visitors visited the exhibition; and that is exactly the experience that the gallery gave.
From a wide selection of home décor, textiles, fine art works and a stunning prefabricated living pod, the gallery embodied a modern yet African aesthetic that cater to all levels of creativity and all kinds of personalities.
Some of the exhibits at the gallery included:
Two By Four
Represented by the genius of a refurbished living pod also known as the Moja Living Pod, Two By Four is probably one of the greatest secrets to the real-estate problem in urban cities. All you need is a container (those that ferry goods on ships) and with the expertise and creativity of their creatives and you have yourself a versatile, environmentally friendly living quarters. It can also be used as a home extension, office, artist studio or gym.
Kitengela Hot Glass
Kitengela Hot Glass have been around for quite some time now and with every collection, they do not fail to disappoint. Their singular use of recycled glass with the matrix of supporting material has been used to create authentic pieces that can be used as garden jewelry or supporting interior décor for the house. This particular collection had a number of pieces that were recycled from plane parts.
The showcase of the exquisitely antiqued furniture with vintage hand woven textiles is what made Tribal gallery’s collection look more like a trip to an exotic foreign land than walking into your own home – which is a good thing because our houses should be more full of soul than any other place we frequent. Our homes should give us more rest, more peace and tranquility and that is exactly what the pieces at Tribal do. They create heritage.
When you travel to the coastal region of the country, there’s one common factor about the nature of the region; the presence of baobab trees. They have been seen as a symbol of desert, a sign of drought and lack of rain but also a sign of life. They are able to store water and produce fruit even in the driest of seasons
Fabiana and Roberto from Seedling Kenya however saw the trees as a natural and unusual source of material for unique lampshades made from hand-carved baobab pods.
Their installation at the gallery called ‘tree of life’ draws its inspiration from the life of the baobab tree and the piece is assured to bring more ‘life’ and light into other people’s homes.
The land of Uganda has always been a land of color to me. The array of color and design of their food culture, land and clothes has always astounded me and the same thing was evident with their stunning baskets at the gallery. The skill and intricate weaving design of their baskets is on a dumbfounding level, which is expected considering they have a variety of clients and buyers all over the world.
Every year, Craft Afrika develop a theme and layout for exhibitors that allows for creative thinking and this year’s installation offered a carefully curated experience, complete with gallery guides and a professionally developed exhibition catalog that will take up two floors and garden of the venue.
During the event, which was free of charge, design students, interior designers and art enthusiasts were all encouraged to participate and experience the event in order to establish vibrant lines of communication and this is the same for the past two editions they have had.
Over the years, the event has presented a unique opportunity for the flow and exchange of ideas and resources, especially for the exhibitors and I know that I personally don’t want to miss the next gallery exhibition for the opportunity to see some truly spectacular pieces of art once more.