The Drawing Out Obstetric Fistula exhibition in New York is finally official! (see below).
The show will bring together two bodies of work for the Drawing Out Obstetric Fistula project: the first series of drawings completed after my visit in 2014 to the Fistula Clinic at CCBRT in Tanzania, and a second brand new body of work completed after my second visit to Tanzania last year. As you can see from previous posts on this site, we were fortunate enough to have the opportunity to exhibit the first series of drawings at the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists in London last year. This show was kindly sponsored by Johnson and Johnson who are again sponsoring this second, much larger exhibit in New York, which is this time being organsed and hosted by the Kupona Foundation and partners. My sincere thanks to all those, too numerous to mention here individually, who have made this possible – and of course to all of the women themselves at the fistula clinic and The Mabinti Centre, who taught me much and with whom it was my privilege to work.
The exhibition will continue at the Kimmel galleries for six weeks from May 23rd.
Such a wonderful place…the two weeks have gone by far too quickly!
The Mabinti women and me!
Cleaning the screen
Another successful day at the Mabinti Centre in dar es Salaam. This is the start of my second and last week working with the women there and this week’s group were just as enthusiastic and engaged with the creative work as were the first group. Colour theory was new and fascinating to them and the colour wheel, a magic thing! The womens’ sense of design seems innate and they were making beautiful and complex patterns on a basic framework consisting of six lines and 5 circles. We went on to talk about hot (johto) colours and cold (baridi) colours. Swahili and English got all mixed up with laughter and a truly healthy competitive spirit when we started to play a ‘colour game’ with a whole assortment of tiny textile paint bottles!
After a hearty lunch of rice and beans and Tanzanian spinach I continued to sketch and take photographs of the site and of the people working there. As I sat in the cool shade of the banda, quietly sketching the women as they went about washing up the plastic boxes they ate their food from, and cutting cloth in the outside work space, I felt I was in a place where things – lives – change.
A trip to the supermarket in the early evening was an equally moving experience. I walked with new found and very wonderful friends, who hail from Denmark, and they led me through the ‘local neighborhood’ here in Mikocheni. My artist self was intoxicated by the richness and the authenticity of everything that was around me – the people, the smells, the colours, the smiles, the narrowness of the dirt streets (that I have to admit did encroach on my closely guarded sense of claustrophobia!) and the incredibly stark juxtaposition of the barefoot scraps of humanity who were playing, as children will, in the heat and the dust, and their impeccably clad elder siblings coming home from school in distinctive and immaculate uniforms. Chickens run to and fro in the neighbourhood, many, many people sit, chat to friends, or simply watch the world go by outside small, dark houses or bars. They work on cars, motorbikes, bajaji, they sell their fruit, vegetables, clothes or jewellery, they just, simply ..live their lives. We heard “Hallo! How are you?” at every turn. The children repeat it endlessly until we respond and then reply back to us with enormous smiles. “Welcome!” (Karibu) rings in your ears always here in Dar and we heard it no less infrequently here n the nieghbourhood. This was an experience burnt into my memory…. my thanks to Eva and Claus.
Washing dishes after lunch
The week has gone by so quickly. I have recharged my batteries over the weekend with a bit of relaxation on the beach and now I am ready to start again tomorrow doing drawing workshops with the second group of women trainees at Mabinti. The first week went so well, and I am hoping that this coming week will be even better!
Women trainees at Mabinti in the first weeks drawing class. Joyce, Sada, Husna, Edna and Kulawa