Showing posts with label Fashion. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Fashion. Show all posts

Inside Clever Art Gallery's Unique Outdoor Exhibition in Nairobi

Nairobi's 3rd edition of the biggest outdoor exhibition in the Visual Arts happened in Nairobi Railways Museum on the 4th and 5th of May 2019 courtesy of Clever Art Gallery. And I was there to see it.

I attended the exhibition on the 4th and it was one of the most unique art exhibitions I have been to so far with art pieces displayed on top of the beautiful old trains. The art and the trains complemented each other so well you could not help but appreciate both even more.

It was just the perfect time of the year to have this artsy event because of the cool but sunny weather and the glossy green grass thanks to the recent rain. That must be the reason why I spotted numerous insta moments going on inside and outside the trains, on the beautiful green grass and next to the artwork.

Glossy Green

Being an outdoors event, it goes without saying there was plenty of space to interact with the brilliant artists behind the beautiful art pieces exhibited. On that note, I'd like to share with you a bit about the Visual Artists I met.

I'll start with two ladies Dee and Rey who also happen to be classmates. They are both students at Kenyatta University and they had displayed their work next to each other.

 Dee does unique mixed-media pieces with paper on canvas such as the one below and thanks to her Instagram, I also found out that she also sings. It's always encouraging to meet people who are bravely pursuing all their artistic talents. 

Dee's mixed media piece

Rey's pieces, on the other hand, are inspired by animals and children - like the ones below.

Artistic Rey's pieces

llewxam is a student at BIFA (Buruburu Institute of Fine Arts). I found his name so interesting that I had to mention it and he made me laugh when he said it was Maxwell spelled the other way round.

He also shared how he got that name from his friends a while ago as they were talking about their dreams of succeeding in their artistic careers.  He is interested in doing live portraits at events. And he sent me the video below of a piece he completed in 6 minutes at an event in school. 
llewxam kenyan live painting artist

Llewxam painting a live portrait

Gideon and I discovered that we share something in common. We both studied art in high school but for one reason or the other, we could not pursue it in Uni. 

Gideon is currently doing Graphic Design at Talanta Institute. I found his portraits very interesting to look at, especially the one below done using a biro pen. There is a nice flowy vibe to the unique patterns he used on them.

Gideon's portrait

I then met three friends Dennow, Jimmy and Mwesh from Sketchmaster Art Studio, an Art school in Kasarani. 

Dennow is a really cool guy and I immediately fell in love with a piece he had done of a lady with some fly dreadlocks. I quizzed him further about it and he told me it was a piece he had done for a competition on drawing dreadlocks. 

Dennow's dreadlock piece

Jimmy, also based in Kasarani, has been in the industry for 6 years now. His art piece of an old guy winking made me smile.

Jimmy's portrait

Mwesh and I instantly broke into conversation after I mentioned that I have a sister called Mwende. It was a sweet ice breaker and she told me that many people ask her what Mwesh stands for so it's good to meet people who already know. 

Mwesh next to her artwork

Speaking of good things, it was also good to see a good number of female Visual Artists present.   

Ms. Ndunge made my day with her flower pots made out of reused fabric and concrete. It is always refreshing to see art that contributes positively to the environment. I spotted a really pretty one made out of a towel. She did Fashion Design at Kenyatta University and is the owner of the fashion brand Zaqara Kenya 

Ms. Ndunge's unique flower pot

Damaris is a self-taught artist. YouTube University is her jam. She had displayed her intricately made string art and I could not help but think of the amount of time she put into learning and creating this type of art. She is super talented and patient.

Damaris' string art

Steve Rotino is another patient, self-taught artist I met. He creates his pieces using millet and sorghum. He is based in Rongai and is also interested in string art.

Steve's millet and sorghum art

Ochi's story is quite a unique one. He did not go to high school so he is self-taught. He also told me there's a period in his artistic career he took a break for a decade. In spite of all these adversities, his pieces were the most unique and intricately done in the exhibition. He etches on wood and there's this piece he did of a lion that kept on calling people to his display section. Yes, his work is eye-catching.

Ochi's beautifully etched wood

Emanuel Kariuki was super helpful. I met him through Ochi and he linked me to an art expert I was really looking for. He learnt his craft at Sketchmaster Art Studio and is currently mentoring the new artists coming in.

Emanuel's monkey drawing

Wambui's pieces are the ones that welcomed us to the event. However, I could not trace her so I decided I'll try and meet her on my way out. Which I did. I marvelled at her beautiful mixed media piece of a peacock. It shone in the Saturday sun and brought out the lovely essence of the peacock impeccably. She is from Kenyatta University and is currently based at Dust Depo Art Studio in Nairobi Railways Museum.

Wambui's art display

And just like that after meeting Wambui, my time at Clever Art Gallery's unique outdoor exhibition came to an end. I left the exhibition with new artsy friends and inspiration to continue working on my craft. By the way, this is the first article I have written this year so it tells you a lot. I'd like to thank all you brilliant artists for sharing a bit about yourselves with me and for inspiring me through your art.
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Experiencing The Synergy Of Sama Eden


The soothing music draws you in. The place looks really different from the last time you were here. It feels like it was just the other day, but it's not. India happened and it's 4 months later.

That's The Alchemist bar for you.  You wonder if you are the only one who asks yourself if its name was inspired by Paulo Coelho's book. Also, you think of how you really need to reread his book - it was an ocean of wisdom.
 It's a beautiful Sunday afternoon, around 1 p.m and the place is buzzing with activity. You meet Sarah at the entrance. Her warm hug welcomes you in. You are already soaking in all the awesomeness that the merging of the two brands, Sama Paints and the Eden Yard, have manifested.

The vendors are all set, some are talking to curious art enthusiasts. The rest of the crowd is just chilling, jamming to the awesome music that drew you in just a while ago. The vibe in this place is so good.
I mean, but what do you expect with such music and dope vendors like Zero By Zawadi who have yoga inspired merchandise right there for you to marvel at.

Photo credit: Zero by Zawadi

You fall in love with Zawadi's Sayaris; they are the African version of harem pants, that can also be worn as jumpsuits. And what's even doper, they are unisex! 

You try on 2 purple ones thanks to Faith a former classmate in a Creative Entrepreneurship class you attended last year. She works with Zawadi now.

Zawadi, also has some lovely yoga mat holders. You itch to ask the question, why yoga? And when you finally yield to the urge, she tells you that yoga and meditation have had a huge impact in her life. You don't wanna probe, even though that statement leaves you even more curious.  
You meet Edmond and he mentions that you look familiar. He is a vendor too and he is there with Santana Monda, the owner of House of Sahara. They have lovely furniture but you fall in love with this cutie; she's perfect for your bedroom.  You hope your pesky siblings will finally read and obey.

After a couple of minutes, you remember where you met Edmond. He was the youngest vendor at the Art In The Wild event at Kenya Wildlife Service Headquarters 2 years ago.

You catch up and find out some really interesting stuff about him. Stuff like his decision to stop watching telly and how consequently his photographic memory has improved so much that he can draw a friend from memory. You pick his contacts and promise to keep in touch. His story should one day feature here.

Artfordable Kenya

Speaking of stories you meet these really passionate guys. They strive to make beautiful art affordable, thus the name of their brand. Teddy Ngando from Artfordable Kenya is keen on explaining to you how they create their intricate prints out of wood cuttings.

What fascinates you the most out of their story, is that they get their raw material for free from local workshops. They basically upcycle waste MDF(Medium Density Fibreboard) pieces by engraving the designs they want on them, applying ink on them and finally transferring the print on to paper. Clearly, anything is possible under the sun.

Fun Games 

At around 2.30pm, people start playing board games. You join in on the fun and learn a couple of new games - only you forget to ask what the games are called. While playing, you meet this little girl who is so full of life. She joins you and your female friend and you both have a blast watching her say she won every time.

You like how free her guardian seems, she too has a playful spirit. She hula hoops a couple of times next to the person singing at the stage, and she calls your little friend to join her.


You meet Max from the rock band Rash and exchange pleasantries. You were in campus together. He too is asked to go and play the guitar for a bit. Muthoni the Drummer Queen is also in the house. She is just here to chill. Later during the day, you spot her playing with one of the vendors' kid. So sweet.

More people are encouraged to go and sing on the stage. Anyone can go and at some point Edmond answers the call. You like how comfortable  he looks on stage. Talk about being grounded.

Grounded by Bree

Other than helping, you feel grounded and one with mother nature via the plants in her beautifully designed pots. Bree also contributes to the environment by recycling those big old plastic soda bottles and using cement to come up with the creamish-white flower pots you can see above. Here's to staying ever present to our connection to mother nature.

Thank you for staying present with me this long. I hope you've felt the richness of what was The Sama Eden January edition 2018. Lots more things went down and this is only a sample of the whole experience. More opportunities are coming up for you to experience all this awesomeness in person. I sure hope to see you there next time.

Until then,

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Uniting Africans Through Music

If you were given a chance to insure a body part what part would that be for you? I think for Yemi Alade her lips would be it. 

Why do I think that you may ask. Well I heard that lip roll exercises help people sing better and reduce strain on the vocal cords.

Truth is I'm a bit biased as a visual artist. If only I could draw her vocals :).

These are steps towards the final piece of Yemi Alade's portrait. You may maximize for a better view.

Her songs have a profound effect on me. I remember how her song Africa featuring Sauti Sol  kept me company  during the wee hours of one morning after some nerve wrecking events that interrupted my sleep. The full story can be found here.

See Yemi Alade is a darling, she knows how to win peoples hearts. For me and many other  Kenyans it was as simple as translating her song Na Gode to Swahili. While for french speaking Africans it was the  translation of her song Kissing to french,

Language has an integral part in our societies because it gives us a chance to understand one another. Yemi Alade understands this and embodies other cultures outside her Nigerian roots through language and dress . These simple acts go a long way. They make what she does with her songs  a uniting force for Africans. Which is nothing short of amazing.

I hope that one day just like Yemi Alade  I will find a way to use my art to unite Africans.

AA(Auspicious Art)
Wendi Mutisya

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5 Tips on Boosting your Online Presence from Social Media Week Nairobi

I still remember the first day I heard about facebook. It was a couple of years back, at a family gathering.

"Are you on facebook?" she asked. She is my in-law and I remember wondering what this book was about. To avoid embarrassment I chose not to ask what it was  , so I said no and quickly changed the subject.

Looking back it is amazing to see how social media technology has evolved. This time round "we" I mean the bunch that was like me and the general public know most, if not all the cool social media platforms around.

Question is, do we know how to make the most out of these platforms?

Well I feel I can do better with my own online presence that is why over the past few weeks I have been in pursuit of these very important skills. These social media marketing skills.

 So when I learnt about the Social Media Week that was taking place in 13 cities across the world Nairobi being one of them. I made sure I was not left out of the action

Seeing that I have not written  anything techy for a while now. I felt sharing my experience at the Social Media Week event would be a great place to start.

Before we go straight to those tips. Let me give you some background info on SMWinairobi. It was organized by Go gaga Experiential and was held in Kenya International Convention Center (KICC) as well as in Strathmore University concurrently.

It was the first of it's kind in Kenya and Africa at large seeing that Kenya was the only African Country hosting the event this year. 

That said lets get down to business  I got the following tips from some of the panelists. They are simple, relevant and very effective for individuals as well as business owners.

1. Consistency across the platforms.
Consistency is key and one way to be consistent is to ensure your name is the same in all your social media platforms. 
Olive an Image Consultant and the Editor-in- Chief of the COUTURE Africa Magazine   gave an example of herself. Her handle across all platforms is Olive Gachara. Her actual name. 
You can use a variation of your name if it is already taken but remember to keep it consistent across the platforms.
That way anyone interested in contacting you will get you easily. There are countless opportunities you can get out of that, especially when you are building your brand online. The age of using our aliases on some platforms and our real names on others is long gone. 
Consistency also applies to the frequency at which you post on your different online platforms.

2. Be active while saving time
Am I the only one that finds managing my social media accounts very time consuming? 
It is also very easy to get sucked up in the online conversations while your intention was to post something and go back to finish an important task. 
Hootsuite is a secure web based platform you can use to  manage as many as 100 of your social media accounts from a central point. I recently started using the Hootsuites 30 day free version and I am so impressed that I am contemplating going Pro. 
Of course that means parting with some of my money but again I think it will be worth the sacrifice. 
If you are interested in becoming a digital marketing expert you can also do the Hootsuite online courses and get certified. 

3. Define your social media marketing goals
This is more relevant to the person who has a business and is using social media to market it. Do you want to make people aware of your brand or are you building brand loyalty?
Awareness is great but at the end of the day a business person would like to make some sales. So conversion should also be among your major goals.
Mandi Sarro the owner of the blog Miss Mandi Throwdown said she is looking to partner with brands to help facilitate conversions. Through partnering or collaborating with other brands it is possible to give your audience discounts and coupons encouraging sales.

4. Use emotion and tell stories with your brand
Christopher Madison one of the panelists and a Digital strategist had the following to say, " Understand the true emotion behind your brand and when creating content tell a story and include  your audience in the story" 
What is juicy and interesting about your brand? and how does it relate to the day to day activities of your audience?
When you connect the emotions your brand evokes and the stories that relate your brand to what people are doing. You are bound to get more engagement on your social media posts which will eventually lead to conversions.

5. Use data to build your brand love
Fredrick Wambua one of the panelists put it well when he said " Data is love made in numbers". Social Media Marketing is about data and profiling clients. There's lots of data on the web and it only takes a bit of research to push you towards the right direction when it comes to creating relevant and interesting content for your target audience.
Google analytics and inbuilt social media tools such as facebook insights are examples of ways you can collect relevant data.
You can also look for information on what's trending and ride on it.

There's lots more I learnt from the event but again I can only share so much. At the very least I hope you gained a thing or two from the tips above and that you will try and implement them and make your digital footprints more pronounced.Thanks for staying with me till this point and I wish you all the best as you share what matters most to you online.

Wendi Mutisya

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The Kenya National Commission for UNESCO (KNATCOM) Spearheads Cultural Celebrations.

As we approached the venue Machakos People's park. It was evident from a distance that we were headed towards an oasis. The only green spot in the middle of vast yellow land.

People from counties all around Kenya had travelled all the way to represent their diverse cultures.

The cold weather surprised many that day, myself included. "I thought Kamba land was hot "I heard one Swahili lady from the Coast say. 

It was time to cover up and keep warm. Luckily the Kanga, leso and Masai shuka sellers were around to save the situation.

The 1940's from the 100 years of Kenyan beauty clip by WatchCut

It was very easy to fall in love with the place. The people who did the landscaping had truly outdone themselves. 

Their love for birds was evident all around the park. The fact that some of the bird sculptures were created out of old car tires and it took a very keen eye to notice, blew my mind. Creativity truly knows no bounds.

The beauty of the park made the cold on that first day of September 2016 more bearable.

Culture and color seem to go hand in hand seeing how the Machakos Peoples Park lit up . All thanks to the traditional attire the performers had adorned in as well as the art pieces that were displayed. 

It was an opportunity for the arts and culture to intertwine. The colors illustrating the epitome of creativity and preservation of the Kenyan culture.

This slideshow is 2 mins 30 secs long.The pictures above sample bits of the whole experience.
You may maximize it for a clearer view.

The celebrations lasted from the first till the third of September 2016. 

On the last day the exhibitors and performers that were the best in their respective categories were awarded. The first in each category would also get a chance to travel to France for the Kenya week celebrating Kenyan culture organized by UNESCO . The trip would be fully funded by their respective County Governments.

It felt good to see how the County Governments supported wholeheartedly. 

The whole event united people from different counties and tribes evidenced by the way they cheered each other on both during the performances and during the award ceremony.

One wise writer Leo Tolstoy said
  "All art has this characteristic-it unites people". 

This was evident through out the cultural celebrations. Celebrations that gave both visual and performing artists a chance to promote intercultural dialogue and the culture of peace for sustainable development. 

The lesson most of us took home was that language is important in culture, however cultural diversity is more than just a language or tribe. We are all one no language, tribe or cultural difference should divide us.

Wendi Mutisya

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Art in the Wild (Animal Series)

On the 14th of August 2016 Art met the Wild at the magnificent art festival that took place at Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) Headquaters. It was an opportunity for artist(e)s to showcase their pieces as well as serenade the audience with their epic live performances. The audience would also get a chance to go for a game drive or a safari walk in the Nairobi National Park.

Did you know you can adopt a wild animal at KWS? Well I didn't know, so when I found out I could not help but ask if we were allowed to go home with the animal once we adopted it. 

To be honest I was a bit embarrassed but then I remembered there's a swahili adage that goes "kuuliza si ujinga" which means "asking a question doesn't mean you are dumb". 

They told me anyone can become an adopting parent or sponsor. All you have to do is pick the animal of your choice and purchase shares. Unfortunately you don't get to go home with it  but you can always visit.

For every sponsorship or share received 50% will be directed to the KWS trust fund whose objective is to provide a sustainable source for funding wildlife conservation. If you love animals like I do and are  interested in adopting one, you can check out their  site  for more information.

You may maximize for a better view.

KMS-KiloMetreS (Slides 2-7) and House of Kaji (Slides 8-13) are some of the fashion brands that were present.

KiloMetreS specializes in the up-cycling of recycled tyres and inner tubes by turning them into fashion items such as wallets, phone cases, musical instrument cases, kitchen-dining items, custom made cushions and poufs . They are unique, stylish and environmentally friendly all mixed with colorful local textiles like kitenges, kangas and batiks.

House of Kaji on the other hand is a couture clothing company based in Nairobi that specializes in Women's wear. They use materials acquired both locally and internationally and recently ventured into Men's wear dealing in suits and sweaters. They also offer bags, shoes and styling services.

You may maximize for a better view.

There were many inspiring stories about how the visual artists that were at the Art Fest are fairing on with or started their artistic careers. I will sample a few. 

Sandra Shiami wowed me with her beautifully quilled paper. Quilling is a form of art that involves rolling, shaping and gluing tiny strips of paper together to create decorative designs. In this case Sandra forms beautiful floral designs. She was kind enough to show my friends and I how she does it. Quilling needs a really patient and talented person and Sandra is just the perfect fit.

Paul Magori the soapstone sculptor just made me happy. We kept bumping onto each other throughout the day. He is from a family of soapstone sculptors and thus learnt his craft through observation and the occasional trial and error. He is now a pro at it and was so excited when I noticed he had sold one of his pieces when I passed by his stand again. His work is really beautiful.

Melissa Pola amazed me with her colourful pieces and the fact that she had no formal training and instead had learnt her craft through YouTube. She too is interested in learning how to animate like I am. 

Then there was Edmond Nonay,  who I think was the youngest exhibitor. A 17 year old who is very gifted. What touched me about Edmond was his answer when I asked him what his favorite piece was. I wanted to take a picture of him holding it. He did not think through it but just picked up a piece of a young looking lady and said that it had to be the portrait he did for his mother. How sweet.

We enjoyed performances from poets, musicians such as h_art the band as well as the modelling of some Kenyan designer pieces. The day was full of activity until my friends and I lost track of time. When we finally decided to head towards the safari walk section it was too late they had closed it for the day. All the same we had a great time. I'm looking forward to the next Art Fest and hopefully we'll see each other there.

Wendi Mutisya

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