Scenic pictures sit next to appointments

Saturday November 04 2017

Women Picking Chaza, by Fauzia Volke. PHOTO | KARI MUTU | NMG


The Kenya Arts Diary is a unique gift idea of contemporary art scene.

The diary is the brainchild of Nina Croze, founder of the famous Kitengela Glass, a glass blowing studio and art centre on the outskirts of Nairobi. A long-time resident of Kenya, German-born Croze was looking to raise the profile of Kenyan artists by publishing their works in a collective format.

First produced in 2013, the diary is a compilation of more than 50 pictures of local artwork.

Designed for weekly entries, the diary has full-page pictures, together with a brief biography and contact details of the artist. The prints are vibrant and colourful.

The cover shot is an untitled portrait of a woman in sunglasses against a busy background, by Eritrean Fitsum Berhe. The back cover is a dark, expressionist head called Music Icon, by Kenyan painter and university lecturer Anne Mwiti.

The prints inside include Unity of Purpose, a kaleidoscope collection of fish by Sammy Lutaya. Fauzia Volke has a whimsical picture called Women Picking Chaza (pictured) of a group of women and girls on the seashore collecting oysters in shallow waters.


A set of wooden religious sculptures by veteran Tanzanian artist Elimu Njau, who lives in Kenya and founded of the Paa ya Paa Art Gallery is also featured.

From Croze herself is a glass statue of a rhino embedded with coloured glass pieces, and a large floral decorative glass ornament.

Other artists featured are Sam Madoka, Mercy Kagia, Larissa Hoops, David Roberts, Stephen Chirchir and James Mbuthia, and wood sculptor Chelenge van Rampelberg.

The 2018 edition was launched last month with an exhibition of original painting and sculptures by the participating artists at the Nairobi National Museum. The event included live music and a film screening.

A statement by the launch organisers said, “We can tell our stories not only through visual arts but also through film, music and poetry.”

The diary is produced with the support of the National Museums of Kenya, the Route to Food Initiative, and Heinrich Boll Stiftung, a German foundation that supports arts and culture among other activities.

Proceeds are used to fund artist residency and mentorship programmes at the Kitengela Art Centre.

Copies of the diary are available for purchase at the Nairobi Museum shop, local bookshops, art galleries and retail outlets.