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globe logo     Caravan: Newsletter of the Alliance for a Responsible and United World
Number 3 May 1999

bulletFrom Readers
bulletThe Alliance in Motion
bulletAn Alliance? As Seen By
bulletOasis of the Alliance
bulletIntercultural Dialogue
bulletCaravan Association
bulletNgecha Artists Ass'n
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Ngecha Artists Association

"Ngecha, a village where art is inborn", said a caption in a local newspaper. The writer had stated it at last. Ngecha, a simple rural village in Ilianbu district (Kenya) has the distinction of producing some of the best self taught artists in the country. The talent range from simple fine art to mystical abstact art. Be it in painting, sculpturing or such related endeavours. The innate urge to create erupts spontaneously among some members of various families. Although this situation had persisted for a long time without outside knowledge, young talents kept on coming up more out of the pleasure and satisfaction they got from art than money. Nevertheless, the artwork could be offered to a friend as a gift. It is just a few years back that the self taught artist appeared and demanded his place in the art scene. Armed only with his artwork and mostly little formal education, he found himself an easy prey to the schrewed propriators of the local galleries. The customers are mostly europeans as the africans are yet to accept the fact that a piece of art can be bought or sold. The artist had no way of reaching the customers directly. Neither are there any initiatives from the ministry concerned to improve the situation with the prices of art materials skyrocketing and the exploitation having reached an alarming level. The artist was left with only two options: to review his direction or to perish. There was no time to moan. Something had to be done and very fast.

It was then that some of the senior artists decided that two heads are better than one. A forum was organised where artists had a chance to discuss their problems, to exchange their views and experiences and to probably come up with some solutions. Itís from this forum that Ngecha Art Association was born. This was back in mid 1995. The objectives were discussed and understood by all concerned. They were sincere in purpose and the vision clear. These included: the development of art through exhibitions, workshops, mass media and any other appropriate means; the development of indigenous as well as non traditional art forms. The association also aimed at cooperating with other international visual arts organizations. Others were to help to procure art materials, equipments for artists and educational facilities to improve the artist skills. Not to forget the encouragement of the artist to rely more on the locally available raw materials.

To cut a long story short, the main aim is to improve the artistís financial, intellectual and social status. That she or he will be in a better position to change the world and leave it a better place than he found it.

Despite the many hardships encountered in this complex challenge of organization, with only our artworks and not a coin, positive results seems to be coming our way. The group which is presently made of twenty members has been able to hold a few workshops and exhibitions in various places in Nairobi. The group can also boast of an art gallery at Ngecha YMCA Centre. The small percentage deducted from every sale is used to run and improve the gallery. Opportunities seem to be presenting themselves. Media publicity has been a blessing.

As we stabilise and struggle to move forward, we hope that another mind will come to understand that if the artist is given a rare combination of an obstrusive support and artist freedom, new ways will always be found to establish continuities between the past and the present in terms that satisfy both his economical and emotional need.

King Dodge (Kenya)

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© 2000 Alliance for a Responsible and United World. All rights reserved. Last updated January 30, 2000.