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Art to Survive.

Each person has their opinion of art. My blog  hits the computers of textile artists, quilters, photographers and like-minded people, we all love art and art comes in many forms.

To be honest, I consider anything made by hand is Art.

My Mother used to embarrass us  children by gathering seed pods along the roadside and creating pictures from them. She sold them and made a small amount of money. I still don’t like the pictures, but it was her passion and her art. I’ve grown to understand her more.  It wasn’t the only thing she created but her seed pod pictures  were loved by many. She took ownership of her art.

I have the ability to travel and I look for folk art where ever I place   my feet.  Mexico, Thailand, USA, Japan, etc.

Wikipedia describes folk art as just this.    ‘Folk art encompasses art produced from an indigenous culture or by peasants or other laboring tradespeople. In contrast to fine art, folk art is primarily utilitarian and decorative rather than purely aesthetic. Folk Art is characterised by a naive style.

On our recent trip to Kenya, we visited several places that touched my heart. One was the Nanyuki Spinners and Weavers.  It is a women self help project registered under the Ministry of Culture and Social Services started under the umbrella of the Presbyterian Church of East Africa on the 4th July 1977. Basically it was started with the main aim of training poor, windowed and single women living in the surrounding villages of Nanyuki town in the craft of Spinning, Knitting and Weaving with the main objective of making them self reliant. Nanyuki town was targeted because it is one of the major wool producing areas in Kenya its weather being favourable for sheep rearing and raising. It was agreed from the beginning of the project that half of the proceeds acquired would go directly to the women under the project and the other half would be retained at the centre.
After visiting the ladies  one realises that they are using their art to support their families and quite simply survive. We don’t have to do that. We have the privilege of having so much and we take it for granted. These ladies are doing it tough right now, since the recent  terrorist attack in the mall tourists are not coming to the area.
I made this small video to share their talents with you. It was a moving experience. I lost some of my images due to strange internet in Kenya.
The ladies singing in the video are from the Kazuri Bead factory, once again, I lost my images and this is all I have. The women come from impoverished situations and now almost 400 are employed at the factory. The beads are sent all over the world and are highly prized.
Of course fabric is our passion, and we had a chance  to buy a variety of different types of African textiles.
The first photo shown here is of the woven ‘Shukas’ worn by the Maasai here in Kenya.
Shúkà is the Maa word for sheets traditionally worn wrapped around the body, one over each shoulder, then a third over the top of them. These are typically red, though with some other colors (e.g.blue) and patterns (e.g. plaid).The other fabrics I bought were very heavily waxed printed fabrics with bold heavy patterns.
The fabric is really heavy and has its origins in Indonesia when settled by the Dutch, I have several pieces of this fabric at home, but I wanted to add to my collection.
5 very heavy pieces have found their way into my case.
I’m still researching on how its made.
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I travel the world teaching and talking. Photographing and writing, Sharing experiences What a way to go.

9 Comments

  1. Libby says

    I have Kazuri beads purchased from a gallery in Berry, NSW. Love them & people always comment on them.

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  2. Marny Howe says

    I am so sorry you lost some of your images. Those left are lovely and I am so glad we saw the Spinners and Weavers, the Bead Factory and the lovely colourful fabrics, and your great video. Thank you. I love the music.

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    • It was the best tour…. and I’m doing it again in October, but this time it will be photography and textile art based. We sure had a great time.

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  3. Marian Roy says

    I brought back from our Kenya trip several items of the beads, including a large bag of loose assortment. I gave each of my female relatives some of the beaded necklaces for Christmas and draped the large piece of Masai plaid on my dining table for holiday meals. I will NEVER forget the experience. Marian Roy, Bonita Springs, Fl.

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