Digital artist Barbara Muriungi was just one of the nearly 30 artists and artisans showing their wares last weekend at the K1 Flea Market inside the K1 Club House on Ojijo Road, Nairobi.
The Flea Market is only three months old, according to Kaz Lucas, who, in addition to being a popular singer, actress and co-host of the ‘positive sex’ podcast called ‘The Stream,’ is also the event’s organizer who designed and opened the market together with K1 Club House director, Sammy Kahama.
Yet in spite of its being nearly new, the market has already become a popular venue that arts venders are clamouring to book a space in so they can show off their specialty crafts, foods, casual fashions and accessories.
Last Sunday’s exhibitors displayed an eclectic assortment of items. They came with everything from fresh tree tomato jams and junk art jewelry to digital art prints, miniature potted plants and children’s books, all written and illustrated by Kenyans.
Then there was the live music by the band Afro-sync that only added to the festive, party-like energy that permeated the K1 Flea Market.
Right outside the market, one can also see a colourful trail of graffiti art created by a host of graffiti specialists including Bankslave, Swift, Kirosh, BSQ and Bantu, among others. It snakes its way out of the market and past the Club House Pub, the hotel and the K1 garden until you reach the auto exit where one finds almost 100 metres of brick wall all covered in spray-painted stories about Nairobi, Kenyan Independence and one special Kenyan hero.
The central image on the wall, and the one Sammy Kahama is most proud of, is an exquisite larger-than-life portrait of the late, great Prof Wangari Maathai, painted by Bankslave (aka Brian Esendi).
“We wanted to commemorate Kenya’s first Nobel laureate who worked so hard to save the trees and the environment,” said Kahama. “Just look at what’s been happening to our forests since she left us. So this wall is our tribute to her,” he added.
There are several artistic touches to the Club House and Market that also have an immediate appeal. The colourful flag-like streamers above the market’s hand-carved entrance sign send out a silent signal that this is where the action is.
Then there is the long corridor past the picnic-tabled pub with its high vaulted ceiling covered in bright beautiful umbrellas hung upside down. Kaz claims having come up with this gracious accent that offers one more welcoming sign implicitly rousing curiosity as to what comes next.
That’s when you see all the assorted tables, some with spicy sauces and dips, others with cotton and hessian cushions stuffed with mitumba (used) T-shirts and, finally, the wind chimes made out of everything from stainless steel spoons, metal pipes and pastel coloured glass.
All told, the quirky assortment of artsy venders makes the K1 Flea Market a Sunday afternoon ‘must’ just because you’ll never know in advance what original items that will be on hand to feast one’s eyes or tummy on.