National Museums of Kenya and The Murumbi Trust present an
exhibition of artworks by nine acclaimed women of East Africa,
titled “Pioneer Women of the Arts.”
The opening ceremony will take place
on Sunday, September 9 at 2:00pm, at the Nairobi Gallery in
The exhibition will highlight works
from legendary East African artists Margaret Trowell,
Joy Adamson, Magdalene Odundo, Rosemary Karuga,
Geraldine Robarts, Robin Anderson, Yony Wai-Te, Nani
Croze, and Theresa Musoke, and will be open through
December 8, 2018.
AMB. Amina C Mohamed, EGH, Cabinet
Secretary for Education will lead the ceremony.
The exhibition’s entertainment will be
a performance by PAPILLON, a young Kenyan musician and
protégé of the world-famous Kenyan musician Ayub Ogada.
PAPILLON creates his own instruments
based on African instruments thousands of years old and
writes his own music in an effort to preserve authentic
Kenyan music not influenced by Western rap and hip hop.
The Birds by Geraldine Robarts.
PAPILLON follows in the footsteps of
Kenya’s African Heritage Festival, founded by Alan Donovan,
which travels the world with its cast of models, musicians,
acrobats, stilt walkers, hair dressers, chefs and others.
Each artist showcased in “Pioneer
Women of the Arts” was selected based on the various paths that
have paved their existence in the art realm, and their earned
acclaim through their unique struggle.
These female artists have generated a
significant impact on the art and culture of East Africa.
Trowell, with her six books and art
school at the prestigious Makerere University in Uganda, which
was the best in the region – and perhaps all of Africa, is
undoubtedly an influential pioneer artist and teacher to whom
all artists in East Africa owe a debt. Her main goal in creating
art, Trowell said, was to “make it plain that art is of the
people and natural to the people.”
Adamson, conceivably best known for
her children’s books and later TV series “Born Free,”
has also had a tremendous impact on the preservation of
Throughout her travels, Adamson
realized that she must paint the people of Kenya in
their many tribal dresses before they were abandoned for
Western wear and imports.
She spent six and a half years living
in all parts of Kenya during this pursuit after the
Kenyan Government commissioned her to make a
comprehensive record of all the traditional dress and
ornaments of the people of Kenya.
Odundo holds the highest position in
international arts of any East African, as Chancellor of
the University of Creative Arts in the UK.
She has received an OBE by the Queen
of England for her service to the arts, and has achieved
international acclaim for her ceramic and glass works,
which have been collected in museums globally.
Silk Batik by Robin Anderson.
Odundo is known for being one of the
world’s greatest contemporary potters.
Karuga was the first woman to attend
the prestigious Makerere University School of Fine Arts.
She has exhibited her works with the
leading artists of the continent and has been a mentor to
world-renowned ceramicist Magdalene Odundo.
Karuga pioneered a unique form of
collage using local materials, and was eventually given a
Lifetime Achievement Award for her contributions to the art
Robarts has lifelong experience as a
painter and University Lecturer in Fine Arts, including Makerere
University and Kenyatta University.
She is always pushing the boundaries
of what paint, color, and new materials can achieve, and
loves exploring the world to bring her inimitable style
to her creations.
Robarts is also a prominent worker
with grassroots women’s groups in Kenya and has worked
to bring art, health, and economic opportunities to
communities who had previously struggled to survive.
Anderson has made a lasting impact on
the art world of East Africa, perhaps most famously as
the co-founder of the leading East African contemporary
art gallery, Gallery Watatu, which served as a platform
for serious contemporary art in East Africa with
recurrent exhibitions by leading artists.
Painting by Yony Wai-Te.
Inspired by the people and wildlife of
Kenya, Anderson was a forerunner for what became a burgeoning
industry of batiks in South Africa with her elegant batiks on
Wai-Te is most famous for co-founding
the first major contemporary art gallery in East Africa, Gallery
Watatu, which has become the leading contemporary art gallery in
Her wildebeest and wildlife paintings
populate hotels and public buildings throughout East
Africa and have gained her an international following
and reputation synonymous with the safari style of the
Through her Wildebeests Workshops, Wai-Te
has worked and trained many East African women’s groups
Croze, as an artist, educator, and
environmentalist, has brought another dimension to the
art of East Africa. Founder of the Kitengela Glass
Research and Training Trust, a center for recycling used
glass into art, Croze has conducted numerous glass
training workshops for young women from Kibera slums
creating glass beads, pottery, and mosaics. Her
monumental stained-glass and recycled glass works appear
in numerous public spaces, including the courtyard and
entry of the National Museums of Kenya.
Painting by Theresa Musoke.
Musoke was one of the first women to
obtain a degree from Makerere University at a time when very few
African women were attending University. Her distinctive works
romanticizing wildlife in a moody mixture of abstract batik and
oil paintings have won Musoke great acclaim. She also taught art
at Makerere and other leading art institutions in East Africa.
To learn more about “Pioneer Women of
the Arts,” please visit: