In Summary
  • Since 2011, it has been a beautifully illustrated series, presenting new and established artists from Kenya and the region.

When I was a kid, Christmas was more a day than a season.

At home, we didn’t put up the decorations till Christmas Eve. But now it’s a long season for buying.

I already see banners slung across Nairobi roads advertising various Christmas bazaars. So I think I will not be out of order recommending a Christmas present.

It is the Kenya Arts Diary 2020. In fact, it’s the 10th anniversary edition of this excellent initiative — the brainchild of Nani Croze, the founder of Kitengela Glass and Research Trust.

Since 2011, it has been a beautifully illustrated series, presenting new and established artists from Kenya and the region, as well as the country’s art centres and galleries.

I reckon this latest diary is the best of the series. It features 71 artists, 26 art galleries, 19 cultural centres, and five restaurant galleries.

THRIVING INDUSTRY

Of the latter, sadly, Purdy Arms has gone, but the number is still correct if we include the new Collective Restaurant in Utalii Street of Nairobi.

These figures are indicative of a thriving arts scene in Kenya. And, as Nani Croze’s Forward says, this edition breaks away somewhat from the usual focus on new works by mainly up-and-coming young Kenyan and East African artists.

It also features some of established artists who have helped so much to build this burgeoning situation.

Two of these are favourites of mine, and I am fortunate in having a few of their works. There is Kioko Mwitiki, the best known of our creators of recycled metal sculptures.

The short profile in the diary lists some of his achievements — having travelled the world in mounting exhibitions and training artists.

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