new Art new Audiences Artistes' Exchange 2019

For years Turkana has been left behind. Its geographic location in the far reaches of Northern Kenya’s deserts coupled with deliberate policies 50 years ago that focussed the newly independent nation’s resources in the green and agriculturally rich south of the country meant that people from Turkana did not identify as Kenyan. But with recent finds of valuable resources including oil and water in the region, Kenya is laying claim on Turkana.

Across the border from Turkana lies the Karamoja region in Uganda. Karamoja is also endowed with resources including gold, limestone and marble and has had a similarly fraught relationship with the capital and the agricultural south of the country.

The British Council has awarded The Artists' Exchange collaboration the new Art new Audiences grant 

This project is a collaboration with Kevo Abbra (KE), Chebet Mutai (KE), Content House Kenya (KE), and Many Studios (UK). 

Turkana is a place of great beauty. Its stark, arid landscape is home to Lake Turkana, the largest desert lake in the world. The lake’s distinctive green waters led it to be named the Jade Sea and its craters and crocodile-filled islands make it one of the most unique places to visit in Kenya. The lake’s parks are now listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The region is also home to some of the earliest hominoid fossils providing a link to man’s earliest ancestors and the peopling of the earth. Karamoja also boasts dramatic landscapes such as the mountains in Moroto. The Turkana and Karamoja cultural forms of expression – especially music, dance and body adornment are well worth the long and arduous journey north.

This is a time of great change in the Ateker region and there is an opportunity for artists from the region and beyond to be part of the discussion, exchange as well as bring art to the forefront of some of the most urgent issues of the region. This project brings together artists Turkana, Karamoja, Kampala and Nairobi to produce work that responds to the issues facing the region in a direct or abstract manner.

The artists work in various disciplines including video art, film, fashion, music and painting. The work will be a fusion of modern and traditional forms inspired by the beading, body adornment, song and dance of the Ateker cluster. The exchange will enable the artists to share and learn from each other about the creative process, technical implementation and dissemination through sharing sites, social media, community exhibitions and festivals in Kenya, Uganda and the United Kingdom.

This new art will be showcased to audiences in rural areas, mainly Turkana and Karamoja events; the Lake Turkana Cultural Festival and Tobong’u Lore.

Are you a British artist/creative practitioner interested in collaborating across East Africa? 

The Network Development Fund (AIDF) was created in partnership with the British Council to support international travel for individual artists and/or creative practitioners from the UK to exhibit, develop talent and create original work. Learn more about the AIDF