Happy Robert is a visual artist born in Songea, southern Tanzania. Now living and working in Dar es Salaam, Happy was employed at two different private institutions before becoming a full-time, self-employed artist in 2017.
The Education diploma holder from St Mary’s Teachers College taught for a short while, but has been painting for more than seven years.
She began with Vijana Vipaji Foundation in Dar es Salaam and attended various workshops and training inside and outside the country.
Her artworks have been shown in Dar es Salaam, Zanzibar, Arusha and Nairobi as well as group and solo exhibitions in Europe.
She started paint at a young age but was not that serious until 2014 when she held many exhibitions in and outside the country.
According to Happy most of her works are semi-abstract paintings of females expressing their emotions and beauty.
The 2020 “Freedom of Thought’’ exhibition, early this year, was centred on the freedom of thinking and becoming comfortable and confident with the different emotions women grapple with.
Her favourite was Happiness she so named because she believes she can’t do anything if she does not start from a point of happiness. It became her first large picture.
“With this series, I wanted to capture the different emotions women encounter. Through their eyes and posture, you can see that some are at ease and happy with who they are while others are in a personal struggle,” Happy told The EastAfrican.
“I wanted this exhibition to encourage women to listen to their feelings and embrace the freedom of thought to reach a place of inner peace, happiness and ultimately assert self-worth. Women are often not granted the same status or respect as their male counterparts. Women and young adolescents face pressure from society, family and even themselves, brought on by low self-confidence and peer group pressure.”
“I hope this collection encourages women to believe in themselves and exercise their right to live and work in dignity and fulfil their full potential regardless of the demons and messaging we/they are confronted with.”
Happy has an Instagram page that is updated when her new artworks available for sale at her workshop, in direct sales during exhibitions and in Kenyan and Tanzanian galleries.
According to Happy, the inspirational behind freedom of thought series was, ''first I wanted people to see what I was doing and also to see what I was thinking as a woman, I also wanted to do a solo show me as me.''
Happy’s connection with her artwork has always played some part in her life and she expresses her feelings through it.
“Art is everything for me. I love art and feel happy about all matters art for in it or through it, I can be anything and anyone I want. It is like a solution or cure when I experience negative feelings.”
She draws most of her inspiration from Haji Chilonga who earned his money painting commercial advertisements, and Evarist Chikawe whose paintings depict a mother’s love and its importance for the current generation.
“Art allows me to be free to latch onto several different pursuits. You cannot do that in the strait-jacket of formal employment.
And finally, I have grown on the shoulders of giants. These were my family (especially my grandfather who was such a good artist that I started to see everything from his point of view.”
Her original pieces sell for Tsh3.5 million ($1,496) and the lowest from Tsh550,000 ($235).
“During my art work I met different people who liked my work that biggest achievement and to get good customers and people get to know me, it is a biggest achievement for the person who does art,” said Happy.