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Kenya Arts Diary 2019 features more local artists

Thursday October 18 2018

Graffiti spray paint on cement.

Graffiti spray paint on cement; one of the artworks featured in the Kenya Arts Diary 2019. PHOTO | MARGARETTA WA GACHERU 

MARGARETTA WA GACHERU
By MARGARETTA WA GACHERU
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The Kenya Arts Diary has been coming out every year since 2011, ever since Kitengela Glass founder-mother Nani Croze gathered together a few Kenyan art lovers and designed the first Diary.

The ninth Diary – the 2019 Diary – is scheduled to be launched on November 2 at the Heinrich Boell Foundation. But the preview exhibition of all the artworks being featured in it opens on October 18 at Alliance Française, Nairobi.

Filling two floors of Alliance Française, the 2019 Diary is unprecedented for having more Kenyan artists’ work featured than ever before.

More than 70 artists are included, nearly all of them Kenyan, with a few from Uganda and Tanzania and a few Kenyan residents.

A map of Africa featured in the Kenya Arts Diary 2019.

A map of Africa featured in the Kenya Arts Diary 2019. PHOTO | MARGARETTA WA GACHERU

This is the second time that the Diary launch is accompanied by a public exhibition of the artworks included in the actual diary.

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“It’s a way for artists to be further exposed to a wider audience and for them to potentially sell their work as well,” says Nani Croze, who has worked with a fluid team of volunteers over the years.

These are the people who have helped her assemble the artworks and also collect artists’ contacts and information so they can write brief bios, all of which are included in the Diary.

A painting featured in the Kenya Arts Diary 2019.

A painting featured in the Kenya Arts Diary 2019. PHOTO | MARGARETTA WA GACHERU

ART CATALOGUE

The Kenya Arts Diary is a combination calendar (including January to January pages broken down week by week) and art catalogue.

“Many people don’t actually use the Diary as a calendar. They prefer to set it aside and keep it as a catalogue of contemporary Kenyan art, since that is what it really is,” says Diana Maigwa who’s responsible for marketing the Diary.

“Some people complain that the Diary doesn’t include all the well-known, established Kenyan artists, [although many were there in the 2018 Diary]. But Nani’s idea has always been to promote up-and-coming young Kenyan artists who can use the Diary as a platform to be better known.

“Plus, the public is now able to contact the artists directly since their information is there in the Diary,” says Lyne Were, one of the KAD volunteers.

Artwork featured in the Kenya Arts Diary 2019.

Artwork featured in the Kenya Arts Diary 2019. PHOTO | MARGARETTA WA GACHERU

Despite the complaints, it is worth noting that established artists do feature in the 2019 Diary. They include established sculptors John Diang’a, Kevin Oduor, Robin Mbera and even ‘newcomer’ Joan Otieno.

And among painters, Yony Waite, the co-founder of the legendary Gallery Watatu, is included, as is Peter Elungat, Patrick Kinuthia, Geraldine Robards, Wycliffe Opondo and Nani Croze herself.

So it is worth stopping by Alliance Française up to the end of the month to see some of the freshest new talents as well as a few vintage ones, all of which are in the new Kenya Arts Diary 2019.

The Diary is printed and packaged by Kul Graphics and will be available at Text Book Centre and in art galleries.

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