For Rocca, all she has done is art, and works with artists

Saturday February 24 2018

Rocca Gutteridge is a cultural producer at the British Council in Nairobi. PHOTO | COURTESY


Rocca Gutteridge is a cultural producer and describes herself as having a passion for both the mess and potential of human connections.

She is currently British Council’s head of arts for Kenya and East Africa based in Nairobi and studying for PhD in Visual Cultures at Goldsmiths University of London.

Her academic research investigates visual responses to gender oppression in Kenya, Uganda and the UK.

Her job entails delivering an East Africa Arts programme which connects artists and organisations across Kenya, Ethiopia, Sudan, Uganda, Rwanda, Tanzania and the UK.

From 2011-2016, she co-founded and directed 32° East | Ugandan Arts Trust, a centre for contemporary art in Kampala, Uganda. During this time, she co-produced KLA ART 012 and was the project director of KLA ART 014, a public art festival hosted in Kampala’s city centre.

Her past works include curatorial projects for the Edinburgh International Art Festival, Glasgow International Festival and the Mela Festival of World Music and Dance.


She has undertaken curatorial residencies at Deveron Arts (Scotland), Terre Sans Frontier (Morocco) and the Edinburgh and Scottish Sculpture Workshops.

A 2016 ISPA Global Fellow, Rocca has produced workshops for and given presentations at Raw Material Company (Dakar, Senegal); Green Papaya (Manilla, Philippines); Ruangrupa (Jakarta, Indonesia) and Arizona State University (USA).

She received a Bachelor of Arts in Sculpture at Edinburgh College of Art and being an Honours student, the college awarded her a scholarship for a Masters course, which she did in Contemporary Art Theory.


What’s your off-duty passion?

Unfortunately for me, my off-duty passion for now is my PhD studies. I’m two years in and I’m zealously exploring the ways in which art can disrupt and subvert mean and oppressive situations.

If you hadn’t turned into who you are now, what would you have been?

An artist. But when I used to make art, I looked around and saw much better art, and thought: ‘I think it’s better if I put my energy towards making more of this much better art happening.’

What signifies your personal style?

Leggings, long t-shirt and tattoo. It’s my uniform.

How do you manage your wardrobe?

By making sure I have enough clean leggings and long t-shirts.

When in East Africa, where are you most likely to be whiling away your time on a Saturday afternoon?

On a well behaved day: At my desk studying. On a less well behaved day: On the sofa sleeping.

Describe your best destination yet in East Africa?

Nairobi. This city is a brilliant hustle with a huge relaxing forest in it [Karura]. It’s the best.

Anywhere on your must-visit list?


What do you see as East Africa’s greatest strength?

Its contemporary art scene.

What’s your best collection?

I have a dope collection of fridge magnets.

What’s the most thoughtful gift you’ve received?

Every UK spring, my mother sends me the first primroses of the year from her garden. Wherever I am in the world, they’ll turn up in a box with wet tissue paper around them to keep them alive.

What’s the best gift you’ve given?

A badge-making machine.

Your last great read?

Not African Enough a fashion book by Kenya’s Nest Collective.

Which movie has had a big impact on you?

I still cry every time I watch The Snowman!

What’s your favourite music?

Shhhh! Don’t tell anyone but, folk music.

Your favourite website?
It has to be:

What’s the constant in your fridge?

Extra mature cheddar cheese.