By Margaretta wa Gacheru (posted 17 October 2018)
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.
With the ninth Diary coming out November 2nd officially at the Heinrich Boell Foundation, the Preview exhibition of all the artworks being featured in this coming year’s Diary opens Thursday, 18th October at Alliance Francaise.
Filling two floors of AF, this year’s Diary is unprecedented for having more Kenyan artists and their 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 Kenya-based residents.
This year is only the second time that the Diary launch is accompanied by a public exhibition of the artworks included in the actual diary. “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.
The Kenya Arts Diary itself 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 also 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 are there in the Diary,” says Lyne Were, one of the KAD volunteers.
Besides that, it is something of a myth that established artists are not in the Diary since there are always some every year. For instance, in the new 2019 Diary (which will be available in the Textbook Centre and in the art galleries}, established artists like sculptors John Diang’a, Kevin Oduor, Robin Mbera and even the relative ‘newcomer’ Joan Otieno are in this year. And among painters, Yony Waite, the co-founder of the legendary Gallery Watatu is in this year as is Peter Elungat, Patrick Kinuthia, Geraldine Robards, Wycliffe Opondo and Nani Croze herself.
So it is worth stopping by Alliance Francaise 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 which is printed and packaged beautifully by Kul Graphics.