By Bethan Uitterdijk
In these past few weeks Arts to End Slavery (A2ES) has begun the process of finding exhibition space. In May 2015 three exhibitions will be held in Nairobi to publicize the expressions of art that are being created for HAART. Although this exhibition has been dreamt of, discussed and progressively planned since last year, it is now time to choose the perfect location to show off these works of art. After all, the art is being prepared not to be enjoyed by an audience of one, but to be shown off to the masses, to evoke responses amongst many and to provoke a diverse collection of reactions and emotions.
Mwende, the project coordinator, Sophie, the project consultant and two of HAART’s interns (that’s where I come in) visited four potential locations to host the A2ES exhibition. It is exciting to see the exhibition begin to take form and to see Mwende’s thoughts/research/planning/communication come to fruition as we’re better able to picture what this event will look like come May. The rooms we visited were all within Nairobi’s city-center and generally differed from one to the other. Some spaces classically used as conference rooms, some as performance centers and some exclusively for exhibitions. Naturally, they too differed in size, grandeur and lighting. One room was covered from head to toe in soundproofing, which is not overly ideal when you hope to hang paintings! As well as the details of the room being highly important to A2ES, the location and accessibility of the gallery is also vital – we want it to realistically reachable.
One particular site that equally impressed us all was the Michael Joseph Centre in Westlands. A huge window and spotlights lit the spacious room. When we visited it initially, it looked like a space that was ideal for performing arts and not exhibitions. The management team at the center encouraged us to visit the following week when there was an exhibition to get a better view of what our exhibition would look like. A strategic second visit meant that we were able to see the space being used as an art gallery for two Kenyan artists. Walking amongst the art pieces caused us to better visualize our own A2ES exhibition and confirmed that this location would truly celebrate our collection of art. We were able to picture a location that could facilitate each art piece, giving opportunity for every viewer to observe, to contemplate and to be provoked by the message of human trafficking that each piece communicates.
This being HAART’s first year of A2ES, we hope to start as we mean to go on and create an event that will flourish annually to create awareness about human trafficking. I heartily recommend that you pencil A2ES into May in your diaries!