Tuesday, 14 January 2020

ART 'GOES TO THE DOGS'

Artworks by Dennis Muraguri will be at the One Off 'Jumble'

WHEN KENYA ART 'GOES TO THE DOGS'

By Margaretta wa Gacheru (posted 14 January 2020)

One Off Gallery’s first art exhibition of the decade will be a feel-good fund-raiser similar to the silent auction held last year to raise cash to cover the cost of running the new mobile veterinary clinic that ‘tracks, neuters and releases’ (TNR for short) stray cats and dogs.
                                          Art by Florence Wangui will also be at One Off's day in aid of TNR Trust

The exhibition will be part of a larger event organized by One Off’s founder-curator Carol Lees and the TNR Trust’s founder Amy Rapp whose idea it also was to create a mobile vet clinic that could go all over Kenya and address the multifaceted issue of what Carol calls ‘loosely owned’ dogs and cats.
“They’re called ‘loosely owned’ because somebody might feeds them occasionally, but without permanent homes or owners they are liabilities to especially low-income communities,” she says.
TNR was founded to both vaccinate these animals for rabies and neuter (or spade) them so they don’t keep proliferating.
                                                                                  Art by James Mbuthia will also be there

Carol herself, has five rescue dogs of her own. These are dogs that were picked up primarily in police ‘swoops’ and scheduled to be exterminated if they hadn’t been claimed in good time.
The larger event that Kenyan artists like Dennis Muraguri, Florence Wangui, Thom Ogonga, Olivia Pendergast and Mandy Bonnell among many others are taking part in is called a “Second-Hand Jumble”.
The Jumble is meant to be a fun day when lots of ‘bargains’ will be available for sale, including artworks by some of Kenya’s leading contemporary artists who won’t be exactly donating their work to this ‘worthy cause,’ Instead, Carol says they will be getting a percentage from the sale of their work while something like two-thirds will go towards covering the operational costs of taking the clinic to low-income 
communities all over the countryside and running day-long educational programs.
                                                               Anthony Okello's art is also likely to be at the Jumble

“TNR now has a full-time veterinarian who vaccinates and neuters (or spades) the animals, while volunteers simultaneously tutor the children (since mostly children are the ones who bring the strays to the clinic) on how to care for animals as well as cope with aggressive ones,” Carol adds.
TNR launched its mobile clinic in 2018. But Carol says the work took off seriously in early 2019 with the arrival of a qualified vet, Dr Desmond Tutu. Since then, Carol says TNR has vaccinated nearly 5000 dogs and cats for rabies and educated over 1300 children in animal welfare and how to recognize and deal with aggressive dogs.
“First we tell them they must freeze and stand like trees once approached by an animal. But then, if it keeps coming, we tell them it’s best to fold one’s self up into a ball in order to protect one’s self from being bitten badly,” she adds.
Besides explaining such things to children, Amy and Carol created a Kiswahili children’s coloring book for use in teaching dog-care. For this Carol sent out a call to local artists to create drawings that children could easily color at the same time as they’d get lessons in how to treat their animals.
The four artists whose drawings were selected to be in ‘Kitabu Kuhusu: Kuweka Mbwa’ were ‘Bertiers’ Mbatia, Alex Mbevo, Samuel Kimemia and David Opiyo.
“Wherever the clinic goes, the coloring book is shared with the children we teach. We also give them colored pencils or crayons so the little ones especially can be entertained,” Carol adds.
                                          Bertiers Mbatia participated in the creation of a children's dog coloring book

Speaking of entertainment, from noon until 6pm on February 16th at One Off, there will be music by the Kenyan band ‘Hope’ plus lots of food and drink as well as the art sale. “None of the art will be sold for anything over KSh50,000,” says Carol.
Meanwhile, the Second Hand Jumble will be selling ‘lightly-used’ household items and lots of books but no mitumba clothes.
“It will be a sort of ‘blankets and bulky wallets’-type thing,” says Carol whose current exhibitions, one by David Thuku in the Stables, the other a group show featuring many of the gallery’s favorites.
                                      David Thuku just joined the corral of contracted artists exhibited by One Off Gallery

David Thuku’s “Still in Motion” exhibition is his premiere as a contracted artist with One Off. The Loft Gallery, just a level below the Stables features works by Okello, Muraguri and Florence as well as Peterson Kamwathi, Fitsum, James Mbuthia and others.
The gallery’s new outdoor Sculpture Garden will also be wide open and where much of the Second Band Jumble will be displayed. But the books and artworks will be displayed on the terrace. There, none of the art will be second hand. They will all be original works created especially for the TNR fundraiser.



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