The Kenya Arts Diary 2019 which is being launched officially on Friday, November 2, took more than a year to assemble.
It was a small team of volunteers that made the effort to attend as many art exhibitions in and around Nairobi in the course of the year so that the Diary was sure to have the freshest new talents represented in it. They also made some effort to visit artists in their studios as a means of seeing ‘works in progress’ which had the potential to be considered for the Diary 2019.
The final selection was made by a slightly larger team that expressed their likes and dislikes in order that the final choices would represent a broad range of voices and views, tastes and aesthetic perspectives.
Among those making the final choices was Nani Croze, the founder mother of the Diary and also the founder of Kitengela Glass and Research Trust. This year, for the first time, one of Nani’s stain-glass windows will grace the cover of the Diary. ‘Baobab’ was photographed by David Gottlieb.
On the back cover of the Diary are paintings by Naitiemu Nyampom, Lee Gitahi, David Kigozi and Evans Ngure.
When the exhibition of artworks in the Diary goes on show tomorrow at the Heinrich Boell Foundation, most of the artists with works there will also be on hand to greet visitors, including the new German Ambassador Annett Guenther who will be the Guest of Honour. Also speaking at the launch will be Dr. Joyce Nyairo, University lecturer at Moi University.
There will also be a moment given to remembering the late Jak Katarikwawe, who passed on October 19th and was a pioneer artist who inspired East African artists and paved the way for them to dare express their creativity and make a successful career being artists whose works, like Jak’s could be appreciated all over the world, not just in Kenya and East Africa.
The diary serves as both as a weekly calendar and an art catalogue of contemporary Kenyan artists. Some are less established than others, but their artistic talent is apparent and their capacity for going places artistically looks assured.
At the same time, there are a number of acclaimed artists in the diary this year, including Onyis Martin, Peter Elungat, Yony Waite, Patrick Kinuthia, Mary Collis, Wallace Juma, Michael Musyoka, Kevin Oduor and Meschak Oiro.
This is the ninth year that the Diary has come out. Nani told Business Daily in a recent interview that she was following in the footsteps of the renowned German artist, HAP Grieshaber, who also happens to be her father. HAP had devoted much of his time in later life to mentoring younger artists, which is also what Nani does through the Kenya Arts Diary Art Residency Award which went this year to Michael Nyerere Odhiambo, a member of the Dust Depo Art Studio.
The first diary came out in 2011 with Beatrice Wanjiku’s artwork on the cover. It has come out every year since then. In the last few years, the Heinrich Boell has assisted in launching the Diary and holding a one-day exhibition. This year the Launch was preceded by a two week exhibition of Diary artists’ works at the Alliance Francaise.