11 November, 2011


Art in Zambia 1: Tribute to Fackson Kulya. A brief and incomplete biography of Fakson Kulya, some reproductions of his work and some observations about his art.

Post by Gijsbert Witkamp
First published: 11 November 2011
Last update: 15 July 2015

In deciding what or who should be the first of this blog serie labelled “Art in Zambia” I choose Fackson Kulya. I have two reasons for this choice. One reason is personal and perhaps incidental. Fackson was the first Zambian artist I got to know in 1975 when I started my five year spell as full-time artist in Zambia. The other reason is neither personal nor incidental. Fackson, had he still lived, today would be well in his sixties. He died around the year 2000, probably somewhere in the Luanshya country side where his village was. He came from that area, a Lamba by tribe.
Fackson does not deserve to “disappear without a trace” out of the Zambian art scene.

The significance of Fackson Kulya as an artist is acknowledged by his inclusion in the ranks of artists with a dedicated page in the book “Art in Zambia” (2004) by Gabriel Ellison (extensively aided by the Book Publishing Committee of the National Zambia Visual Art Council).
He was a self-styled artist, a sculptor, graphic artist and painter. Most of his sculptures are in wood, but in 1975 he started out in bronze casting. His graphic career started in the same year when he, prompted by me, became one of the founding members of the Lusaka Artists Group. The following year Patrick Mweemba and David Chibwe joined and later on Style Kunda became a regular member. The members of the Lusaka Artists Group, in 1977 renamed the Zambia Artists Association, worked together at a studio at the Evelyn Hone College. The space had been made available by the College and the workshop was supported by the Art Centre Foundation.
The members, by working together in an accessible place became visible and known. The Lusaka art scene, in those days, was very small - we are talking about less then twenty people with a more than incidental professional productive involvement in the visual arts. The group, or its individual members, received smaller and larger commissions; working together helped to create a conducive and innovative atmosphere and a number of material problems (lack of art materials) were solved by processing locally available materials.
It was in this setting and period that Fackson could develop into a mature artist. He was commissioned to make a relief in wood depicting the eagle which is a symbol for Zambia on the Zambian flag.

The Sculptor. Linocut by Fackson S. Kulya. 25 x 19 cm. Not dated, but  made around 1977. Fakson depicts himself working at the Evelyn Hone College studio from where the Lusaka Artists Group operated. He is sculpting the commissioned wood relief of the Zambian eagle for the House of Parliament.
He also was one of the artists who did the mural paintings at the Longacres market. Several collectors commissioned or bought medium sized wooden sculptures by him; usually done in mukwa; mostly about “traditional” themes of the mother and child type and executed in some sort of a conventional primitivism.

Sitting on a bad branch. Linocut by Fackson S. Kulya. 3/5. Size 12.5 x 23 cm. Not dated but probably made around 1988. In the collection of G. Witkamp. This side of Fakson is inspired by folklore, his sense of humour and the bizarre.
His more original work was graphic or in paint. In these media it was easier for him to allow his at times bizarre imagination to directly express itself in pictures that often were fantastic, humoristic and rooted in folklore. Fackson, other than his academically trained colleagues circulating in the higher strata of society, is best described as a folk artist. These were his roots and that was his way of life. The blessings and curses of formal art education bypassed him.
In the eighties he returned to Luanshya rural. Town life was too hard for him. He continued, however, to make art. By that time Lusaka had one permanent gallery. Its name was Mpapa Art Gallery. It at first was located at Chachacha Road and later moved to a fine location, at Mwilwa Road, in the Rhodes Park area.

In the Gallery storeroom, in 1991 and 1992, I found three paintings by Fackson, perhaps unsalable leftovers. Or deposited by him in search of a buyer. All of the same size, in the same medium and stylistically similar. I bought them and one part of this trilogy is represented below.

He now is king. Acrylic paint (of a funny kind) on cotton cloth. 90 x 75 cm. The painting probably was made towards the end of 1991 and perhaps has been inspired by the presidential elections of that year which ushered in multiparty democracy.

Fackson surely was not a socialite. He is not remembered because of all the committees he was a member of, or because of his social networking skills. He was not a committee member and his social behaviour could be awkward. He was never nominated for any of the awards that presently are handed out by the National Arts Council. People like Fackson are not important enough, their lives are too far removed from the artistic in-crowd. He does not rank among the big names that dominate art in Zambia. But he was an original artist, making imagery his own way. He did not try to please or provoke, to be fashionable or unfashionable. He just made pictures as he liked it; the way musicians like Short Mazabuka, Green Mamba or Mashombe Blue Jeans make their music. Folk music of a syncretic kind, yet very Zambian. Fackson’s work is not contrived, it is honest and has locality. It has zambianess about it – something hard to describe but you can feel it, coming from the heart.

Note: More information about Fackson is in the ZamArt Blog series Zambia Art Chronicles, now published. In that article a personal version of our encounter. I also have written an article juxtaposing Fackson Kulya and Henry Tayali.

Feel free to add on to this post about Fakson Kulya. You can use the comment or e-mail options. If you have an image by him that you feel should be in the Zambian Virtual National Art Collection - sent in as a comment or e-mail attachment.

09 November, 2011

Update: Website Launch & Introduction of Virtual Zambian Art Gallery

1.         Update on Zambian art website launch

It was my intention to launch the www.zamart.org in April 2011. We now are in November with the site leading a dormant existence inside my computer rather than being publicly accessible.
Main reasons for the delay are:
1.      Poor affordable internet connectivity coupled with rather pricy fast broadband.

2.      I have been somewhat awed by the technicalities of doing the launching without some reassuring assistance of a person in the know.

I have written before that I find the software needed generally & pertinently user unfriendly; this applies to drupal 7, to filezilla, PHPmyadmin (the dbase programme) as well as the instructions of the internet service provider (ISP).
One of these days I’ll go at it again, when it’s less hot and I am in a patient mood. 

2.         Introduction of Zambia Virtual Art Gallery
In this blog we shall create a series of posts all having the “Zambian Art Gallery” label. Each post shall minimally have a few pictures of art by Zambian artists, or art made in Zambia, or art about Zambia, or in some way relevant to art in development in Zambia. The pictures might be of by the same artist, or have a thematic relationship being art work by different artists, or be of interest to the Zambian art scene by an interesting association.

Submissions can be made by any visitor to the blog, provided no copyright regulations are violated. Note that normally one is allowed to publish photographs of art work (like art reporters do), but you may not without consent reproduce the photo made by someone of a work of art. It is the photo that has the copyright in this case, not the original art work to be reproduced as a photo. How this works if the original work of art itself is a photo is not clear to me. Getting permission in case of doubt is best.

Note that the external submitter of visual material to be posted on this blog is fully responsible for the compliance with any applicable law or regulation.

The following information – to the extent available – should be provided with the photograph: Title, artist, year of production, size (in cm or inches), medium, current location and current owner. If there is a story to tell about the painting, do so.

If the work is for sale indicate price and provide contact details. You may only offer the work for sale if you are the owner of the work or his/her legitimate agent.

Note on resolution and size
Photographs or scans have a size (length x height) and a resolution. The resolution is normally expressed as dots per inch (dpi) or pixels per inch. In electronic representation size and resolution are related: increased resolution results in a smaller picture, decreased resolution results in a larger picture. In both cases the number of bits stays the same. For Internet purposes a standard resolution of 72 is employed (horizontally and vertically). If you can, submit scans in jpeg format with a resolution of 72 and a longest side of maximally 400 pixels. First adjust the resolution to 72 and next the size. If these things are beyond your grasp just email the picture (as an attachment or a comment to the blog) but make sure it’s not over 150 KB.

24 September, 2011

Exhibition by Peter Gustavus

Dear viewer, also you can submit art events to this blog for publication, for example by using the comment button.

03 August, 2011

Zambian Musician Enock Mbongwe in Albert Hall

Below text of e-mail message to THE POST.
Enock Mbongwe, kalumbu player, is probably the only Zambian musician ever to perform in the Albert Hall, London, UK. He did this on Saturday 23 July 2011, on invitation of the BBC.


Enock's trip was organised by Michael Baird, Netherlands based and Zambian born musician, producer and promoter of Zambian music.


Apparently of the papers only the Daily Mail reported about this event, before it was to take place. Perhaps you may wish to inform your readers after the event that there are traditional musicians who make it on the international stage presenting authentic Zambian music. It also is encouraging to hear that there is more than rap that rolls in Zambian music.

Enock at Albert Hall during sound check.
Photo Michael Baird.

26 June, 2011

Exhibition Peter Gustavus at Choma Museum

The Art Gallery of the Choma Museum and Crafts Centre presents as of 24 June 2011 an exhibition of paintings by German artist Peter Gustavus. The artist lives near Mazabuka and also is involved in intercultural education and exchange.

When at the CMCC premises you may also admire the brand new roof of the renovated building and its interestingly placed gutter down pipes.

In the beautiful garden you now find a restaurant where you can enjoy a pleasant lunch.

The exhibition is on for about 2 months.

10 April, 2011

Paid for

In the previous blog I mentioned that I would only be assured that the arrangement with the web hosting company is sound and sure once billed for the service and having made payment in due course.

This now has happened. Payment was made. Meaning the domain name has been secured, and the site design once sufficiently ready can go up to the server.

To do this a couple of things are required.

1. To upload your site you need a password and a user name - in a way it's like sending an e-mail. These "keys" are sent by mail - based on information in a form you had submitted in a previous stage. That form did not allow for a P.O. Box address - which in Zambia is unpractical, or in any country that does not have home delivery of mail. Yes I told them and told them but to no avail! That IMPORTANT letter indeed was sent to my physical address. It did reach Choma alright and since people at the Choma Post Office know me it did land in my P.O. Box. My sincere thanks!

2. Uploading the site-design-as-it-is-in-computer requires FTP software. FTP stands for File Transfer Protocol. By means of such software you select files in your computer (of course the ones that capture your website) and transfer them into the appropriate directory of the web hosting agent = server. That is a chapter by itself, that job, but rest assured - the software is inside this little machine and I'll get it to work. This step entails a number of major secondary steps including on security issues - more on that once we get there.

What was that statement about small and big steps? In any case we are not on the moon - far from it, some 400,00 km's. Slowly indeed we are getting there.

It is hard to believe I started this thing only two months ago. What did I learn?

Somewhat impressionistic:
1. Artists and associated, like a great many professionals in Zambia, do not nearly get the benefit out of the Internet that they could.
2. The technical stuff of the IT business is remarkably intransigent to understanding, not because it is so difficult but because there is no systematic introduction into any subject. It is an esoteric scene, by us for us, in which heaps of knowledge is taken for granted including in the help menu's. Any grammar (book) will appear blissfully clear and orderly after trying to understand any IT manual.

31 March, 2011

Registration done

It, at times, is difficult to know where you are in the internet business. If you want to have a website you need three things.

1. You need a webhost; that is, a company that puts your site up into the Internet.
2. You need to have a domain registered - this simply is the name of the site including the extension following the name. That, the extension, is the .com, or .org, or whatever dot is out there, on the market.
3. You agree on what could be called internet space, or the kind of volume you are going to use. The more you want, the more you pay. Since we are starters we do not want all that much.

I think we have 1, 2 & 3; and if I understand the conversations with the provider right I could put up a website - if only I knew how to do it.

Reminds me faintly of learning how to drive a car - in my case that happened about 35 years ago, when, I returning direction Lusaka having visited one at that time famous roadside tavern in the Chongwe area, had to take the wheel as the owner of the vehicle had passed out in blissful sleep. I am not advising anything of the sort to save money on car driving instructors.

That was a sideline.

The domain registration has been confirmed and the other stuff I only believe once I have been billed for it.

I opted for an Nl (=Netherlands) hosting company as for me its easy when it comes to bills, and there is a lot of experience in the Nl's on these services, and I speak their language; and they, or that company, being Dutch, are not going to run away from their responsibilities, provided you have paid. The last part of that sentence makes the billing issue so important to me. If I pay they have to perform some service, as arranged by contract. If I am not billed, and if billed have not paid, then there is no right to the desired service.

A nice company does some of the stuff upfront for you, in good trust; good trust meaning that it is assumed that you are a bona fide entity, and are going to do your thing as you should.

I have to leave this topic here - food is ready - but there are very interesting remarks to be made on this topic. Truly, to do business in the absense of some degree of justifiable trust is awkward, if not impossible.

To finish this of, the domain name has been confirmed and indeed it is http://www.zamart.org/

Up some time in April, I hope.

22 March, 2011

www.zamart in progress (1)

Use the Archive and Label options on the sidebar to go to previous posts. Click on one of the pages under the pages slot to go to another page.

Page initiated: 22 Mar 2011

In the previous blog post One Month Down the Line I reported the successful download of the software necessary for website design.

The software I downloaded but installed in an operating manner (that was the real hitch, not the downloading as such) were two programmes called Apache and Drupal.

Apache enables you to see the site you are designing on screen without having to upload it to an Internet server (host). This allows you to work on your site-in-development without having to be online,a necessary operating condition when you work in an environment with poor info transfer speed (Kb/s).

Drupal is another open source software for IT purposes and specifically for website design serving the/a community. It truly is gratifying to note that the immense technological progress in computer and internet technologies has yielded products that are simply for the common good (hopefully, but in any case for common use), without having to purchase, lease or hire; and without conditions imposed on you, the user, which you may not feel happy about.

The availability of such software I would call progress and in the case of our venture it enables the setting up of the zamart website.

We are getting there, bit by bit. I am now working on the main menu – the tabs and associated pages that are at the top of the taxonomical structure that a website has. It mostly is good fun – but tomorrow is dedicated to farming.

The rainy season is coming to an end and this is the last chance to put trees in the ground that can root naturally, without irrigation. I am planting orange, mango, guava, coffee and lychee seedlings plus a few lychee marcots.

In any case this website, I presume, will be up & working way before these trees bear fruit………

17 March, 2011

Tribute Art Exhibition

@Henry Tayali Gallery
25th March, 2011.

From: Visual Arts Council <vac@zamnet.zm>
Sent: Thu, March 17, 2011 10:04:30 AM
Subject: Tribute Art Exhibition

--> -->

Art Exhibition by & @ VAC, Showgrounds, Lusaka

One Month Down the Line

Page initiated: 17 march 2011

About a month ago I launched the idea of setting up a website to be the Virtual Museum of Modern Zambian Art.

To promote and test the idea I started a Blog, some sort of mini-website. A Blog is particularly suited to record development in time focused on a theme or subject (the log part of it) and is particularly suited to solicit and receive content or comment from Blog visitors.

ZamArt Blog, as it is, gives you a bit of the taste of what a www.zamart.com website is going to look like; by having some of the pages the zamart site should have, a tiny bit of content, and the Internet communication facility (the Blog itself).

Responses have been sufficiently encouraging to carry on with this project. Non-response also has been significant and indicates underutilisation of Internet technology and communication, notably by artists.

Summary of Concept:
The projected zamart website is to have three main functions:
1.   To be a virtual museum of modern Zambian art
2.   To be an IT communication platform open to all interested in Zambian art
3.   To be a market link in the buying and selling of art (and possibly quality crafts)

To get there presently the following is in motion:
a.    ZamArt Blog development
b.    Work on artists’ profiles (to appear as posts in the blog and facilitating online arrangement of Art for Sale)
c.    Design of the ZamArt website

Website development:
During the past days  (yes indeed, a protracted effort it was!), I have downloaded and installed, with a little help from my friends, website building software especially developed for community servicing purposes. And indeed, o wonder, today on this very screen before my eyes appeared the welcome message of the home page of the zamart site to be. You may ask yourself why I should torture myself with the pertinently obscure and intransigent matter (or is it non-matter?) that website building software is – should I not direct my energy and intelligence (or what is left of it....) towards an activity in which I can claim at least some proficiency and competence? My answer, based on long local experience, is that in our environment you must know what you are doing, even if you do not do it yourself. That is not to deny the need for a genuine IT professional. But to communicate with such a person requires some understanding of what (s)he is doing or is capable of. In the meantime, let us move on!

Once more I invite you to comment, react or contribute as you like to:



01 March, 2011

Profile of Gijsbert Witkamp and his Art

Doc initiated : 1 Mar 2011
Last updated: 31 Aug 2013
Sketch in oil paint of the emerging artist when about 18 years by his father. Around 1962.

Note: This brief autobiography focuses on my artistic work and therefore largely bypasses my other professional work in education, management, research, income generation for NGO's, consultancy and adventures into farming.

Born 1944, Amsterdam, Netherlands.
Professional education: Rietveld Academy of Art (art teachers diploma course), Amsterdam, Netherlands; University of Leiden, (MA cultural anthropology with specialisations in non-Western art and anthropology of sub-Sahara Africa, judicium cum laude) Leiden, Netherlands.
Main techniques practiced: drawing, painting, graphics (dry point and lino cut), murals (painting, mosaic), and batik stamp design.
Interest in art started spontaneously at secondary school age 12 when I discovered I could loose myself/get into the imagery I was making. Painting got me into another world, a world of sensation beyond practical reality. My father (himself a good amateur artist and lecturer at a Teachers Training College) aptly gave me a box of oil paints on my 12th birthday (I can still smell the paint); once in a while took me along on a nature sketching trip and later for a visit at the Amsterdam Municipal Museum of Modern Art. (He spent most time with the modern classical masters and I with the contemporaries). Those were the heydays and later days of “Abstract Art” and "Abstract expressionism."  

1970 - 1974
After secondary A level school it was time to think about the practical issue of “making a living.” I enrolled for an art teaching diploma course, passed the exam and started to teach "art" part time at a junior high school. It brought just enough money in for bread and butter and allowed me to continue to study and practice art. I did an evening course, at the local art school at Leeuwarden, (province of Friesland, Netherlands), in lithography (yes, on stone) and started to make dry points. 
I got a spacious studio (helped by the local cultural authority) and acquired etching and lithographic presses. I also did drawing and oil painting.
"Threatened land." Dry point, 1972.

I participated in the annual art fairs; festive social occasions where each artist could put his work on display (for free) on a market stall, facilitating access by a public that would shy formal exhibitions in awesome or exclusive places like museums and art galleries.
Another line of professional development was social. I had left behind the notion that the mission of art was to be a vehicle for “individual expression.” The transition, from personal functionality to social functionality, was a critical concern in my development at the time and its success or failure in my eyes meant being a professional or not. More precisely, there is nothing wrong with art being purely or in the first place “individual expression,” but the relevance of such work might be limited to the image producing individual. This approach becomes questionable when it comes to art destined to socially function, like art commissioned for public display. This kind of thinking also led me into issues of distribution of art in society, and as a designer prompted me into the graphic arts and murals. I did my practicals in “art and society” by being an active member of the Cultural Council of the provincial capital were I was living.
"Made in Holland" 1974 ethylsilicate mural of 12 x 8 m2.
At the same time, in my twenties, I developed an interest in the technical/material aspect of making art. I started to read manuals on various art techniques and other documents (aided by the presence of a beautiful provincial library). The material technology of art is a fascinating world by itself, linking the scientific and the artistic; and going into it established the awareness that the non-material picture that is in your mind is an outcome of light reflected by a material object (“mediated by a learned system of interpretation”). It also brought in my mind the importance of “craftsmanship” to the fore; technical ability and skill, which in the 1960’s hardly featured in dominant, fashionable artistic ideology. These were the days of “spontaneous artistic expression,” art should have the purity and spontaneity of a child’s drawing; and in its practice the notion of craftsmanship and skill, of sound material construction and permanence, was of secondary importance, or even totally absent. 
The interest in art materials and techniques enabled me in 1974 to make on commission an 84 m2 outdoor mural with ethysilicate as a binder by preparing the paint in my studio. It was a technical adventure and most likely had not been done before in the Netherlands. Remarkably, while working high on the scaffold, the queen and her entourage drove by.

1975 -1980
In December 1975 I said goodbye to my part-time teaching job and in January 1976 packed my bag to travel mostly overland to Zambia. I arrived a couple of months later to face the challenge of making a living as an artist in a country which lacked much of the social infrastructure that makes (modern) art work. There was some of it, at the time, like the Art Centre Foundation and its annual exhibition, the art teachers diploma course at the Evelyn Hone College, some venues for temporary exhibitions, some patrons and even some practicing artists! But an awful lot was not there. There was no artist organisation, no proper artist supply shop, no gallery or museum with accessible permanent collections, no art magazines and a whole bunch of other no’s. It was a very small scene, with a very7 shallow history.
The Zambian artists, roughly, could be divided into established and informal artists. The first group had respectable positions in society, was educated, professional, and included artists of both African and European origin. Aquila Simpasa and Henry Tayali were the main African players in this field. At the European side were people like Cynthia Zukas, Bente Lorenz and Gabriel Ellison. The “informal” artists had no or little formal art education, lived in compounds (or in the servant quarters of benefactors in the residential area’s). I started to look for these guys (indeed, they were all men), found a couple of them and set up early 1976 an organisation initially called the Lusaka Artists Group, later renamed the Zambia Artists Association. Founding members, apart from myself, were Fackson Kulya, Patrick Mweemba and David Chibwe, joined later by Style Kunda. I had realised that these artists, and myself as well, in order to get anywhere, had to work together and organise themselves. It worked, not in the least because we had become a prominent productive entity. We got a studio at the Evelyn Hone College, by arrangement of the Art Centre Foundation and support of the College itself. Cynthia Zukas furnished the studio with her etching / lino press. The core members and a varying number of peripheral artists worked in this space until 1981 when it all collapsed. The main line of production we developed was in graphic art, lino and wood cuts in particular. The reason for this choice was twofold: a) availability of (raw) materials and b) broader market access by the very nature of multiple reproduction. Also some painting was done including on walls, and some sculpture made.
"Creation." Lino cut, 1977.
Much of my work in those days was an attempt to combine Western and African visual elements or stylistic features, with varying degrees of success. As of 1977 my main art work was in ceramic mosaic. In that year I was commissioned by the Zambia National Building Society to do a mural on Society House, at Cairo Road. It is worthwhile to detail what happened and led to it. Society House, one of Zambia’s tallest buildings, prominently located at Cairo Road, Lusaka's main road, was under construction and a provision was made for monumental art at the wall behind the ramp leading to the first floor. The commission firstly was given to Aquila Simpasa. Aquila was a brilliant draughtsman and painter, but without experience in monumental work and had no technical understanding of such productions. He was supposed to make a concrete relief and the relief was to be made by using petrol to eat into big polystyrene foam sheets. The space created by petrol was to be filled by concrete, and the concrete was to be attached to the supporting wall. In such a technique you get all these bubbly shapes of the dissolved polystyrene sheets. Predictably this venture had run into the ground. I went to visit Aquila and saw him depressed amidst a heap of these eaten into polystyrene sheets.  Luckily he had gotten this far without fire - Aquila liked to smoke. He soon thereafter left for the UK to be a message man far away from home. When I was approached by the architects of the building for this work I drafted a plan outlining several technical options. I advised against a concrete relief, having consulted a structural engineer, because of its sheer weight and the complications of reliably supporting and mounting it.

5.4 x 10 m2 mosaic mural titled "Home" at
Society House,
Cairo Road Lusaka. 
Completed 1979. 
(Apologies for poor quality photograph).
I favoured a mosaic mural, which, I said, could be made of Zambian raw materials and did not require imported goods. This was a big issue in those days. Foreign exchange (hard currency) was scarce and hard to get. A truly Zambian mosaic it was to be. I had experience working at this scale (the mosaic was to be about 54 m2, smaller than my 84 m2 painted mural in Leeuwarden, Netherlands), but I did not know a thing about pottery and mosaics. Bente Lorenz, a great potter and dear friend, kindly lent me a book in Spanish with earthenware pottery glazes in it, as used by the Moors in Spain a thousand years ago. Luckily the Evelyn Hone Library had a very useful book by Michael Cardew titled Pioneer Pottery – inspired by his work in Nigeria. That book gave me in a general way the technical information I needed. Bente's book gave me the formula's of lead based glazes that could be made using litharge  of the Kabwe zinc & lead mine. Luck or Provenance landed me with a small kiln, good enough to do the experimental work of body and glaze formulation. I produced a draft drawing of about 4.5 m2 and samples of a range of tiles and colours. The architect, contractor and commissioner went for it. To date the mosaic mural is still intact – last time I saw it not a single tile had come off. You don’t see its mostly bright earthy colours very clear as it never gets a wash, and the ceiling above it has not been equipped with electric light to illuminate the imagery, recessed behind the ramp. But from my point of view the work had been done, much of it during great turmoil and misery inflicted by Ian Smith and his supporters on Zambia. It was time to move on.

1987 thesis of Gijsbert Witkamp
 "Seeing Makishi" with lino cut by the author.
Moving on meant moving back to the Netherlands. I went back to school, again as a student, now at the University of Leiden were as of 1984 I also held junior teaching positions. My study focused on anthropology of sub-Sahara Africa and non-Western art. It was difficult at first to re-adjust but I became enticed by the academic environment. I studied art in a cross-cultural perspective but did little design work. I got my MA 1988 – its distinction was earned by my research on makishi in North Western Province of Zambia. By then my art professor Adrian Gerbrands had retired, my outstanding Africa professor Adam Kuper had left Leiden, the ill guided Netherlands government was "restructuring the university" (= spending less money on the highest form of education of the country) and thus blocked me from doing a Ph. D. on an outlandish subject like "Art as Communication." Time to move on! Believe me I did not go into "International Development Cooperation" because of idealism. Academia just did not have a place for me.

1988 – 2008

Batik stamp on cloth
 18 x 20 cm
Moving on meant moving back to Zambia, now as a development worker engaged by the Netherlands Development Organisation SNV to establish a museum and crafts project. I was director of that project until November 1997 – by that time its name was the Choma Museum and Crafts Centre Trust Ltd. I continued to support the CMCC as consultant until April 2008. Relevant for the arts was the establishment of what once was a flourishing Art Gallery as part of the CMCC Museum activities. (At the time of editing, August 2013, I am once again involved in the gallery, trying to resuscitate it). As of around the year 2000 I started to design batik stamps. Most of these were carved by fellow artist Patrick Mweemba. I designed about 150 stamps which were used in the Zamfactor textile workshop of my wife Nchimunya. Apart from that there was little art production. I did do a bit of art related consulting and was a member of the editorial team supporting the production of the book "Art in Zambia" by Gabriel Ellison.

Current Art projects

1. Art on the Net.
In February 2011 I rekindled the idea of setting up a Museum of Modern Zambian Art. I knew, indeed, that chances to establish a physical Zambian art museum were next to zero. But a virtual museum was possible, and, though a virtual museum cannot give you the full sensation of seeing the physical art object, by definition you only see a photographed copy on a screen, it can do all kinds of other things a conventional museum does not do. You can store all sorts of information and make it accessible to a visitor of the site, without any geographical boundaries: it is a MUSEUM WITHOUT WALLS. It’s just amazing. You may have discussions with fellow artists or any interested party accessing the Internet, using a blog or by chatting. You may plug interested parties into information they do not have by linking them to it, and provide links for visitors to artists and other players in the art world. And last but not least, you can promote and sell your art. So that is where I am now, if I am not doing a bit of farming, yes, onions have caught my interest – would it not be great to have a C├ęzanne like still life in celebration of l’onion.
To date Febuary 2016 I have set up an art website that cannot yet truly call itself a visual museum but it is the beginning of one: The Art in Zambia Virtual Museum was launched 8 Feb. 2016. In addition there is this blog and a Art in Zambia public group having its facebook page Art in Zambia. Finally there is my company's website (Z-factor Art Site) and I also initiated and administered the website of the Choma Museum Art Gallery.

2. Back to Art

Pattern generation (3).  2012
Pencil on paper.
"Crossroads." Coloured pencil. 24 x 24 cm. 2012
Early 2012 I was invited to participate in an exhibition organised by Peter Gustavus at the Shazula Cultural Forum, near Monze, Zambia. This exhibition, titled, "Processes," was to inaugurate the home Art Gallery at Shazula cultural forum. That got me into designing again, using pencils and making work of a semi-geometrical nature, sometimes combined with figurative elements, or figurative work with geometric elements - much of this work is a play on the construction of imagery by the mind inside the brain by combining the clearly bounded with the evocative. Gradually as of them my art designing work expanded and now included oil painting. There are several portfolio's with quite a bit of work in it - in 2017 I hope to show it in two exhibitions I am currently preparing.

3. Back to the Choma Museum 2012-13

Women in Art exhibition 2013.
Opening "Graphic Art of Zambia"
exhibition, August 21st 2013
I have been associated to the Choma Museum and Crafts Centre Trust Ltd. for over twenty years. First as founding director (1988 - 1997) and next till April 2008 in all sorts of advisory or consulting capacities. I thought that was enough, perhaps even too much of it. However, when prompted into designing once more, my interest in exhibitions also was rekindled; and this was directed at the Choma Museum Art Gallery which in 2012 was moribund. Since November 2012, for the time being, I am involved in that part of the CMCC operations; supporting exhibitions for 2013. The 2012 X-mass Exhibition of Art and Crafts of the Southern Province was followed by Women in Art: art by or about women. Current is the Graphic Art of Zambia exhibition. I set up the Choma Museum Art Gallery website to get the gallery back into the 21st century and started its electronic newsletter.

4. More on the Net
Part of my return to art was a new look at our company Zamfactor Ltd. and especially its involvement in art and applied art. I made a website for it titled Z-factor ART Site. Apart from this site I have been an active blogger: you find the blogs listed at the right column. Combining the Art in Zambia Blog (this blog) with the Z-factor Art and Services website gets us somewhere in the direction of what a Zambian Visual Art Website could look like and perhaps more work in that direction can be done. In addition I have also set up a site with texts called Texts on Line.


24 February, 2011

Artists' Profile - Guidelines

Want to change page? Click on pages, labels or archive in sidebar........

Doc initiated : 24 Feb 2011
Last updated: 18 Mar 2011

PURPOSE OF THIS POST is to assist artists wanting to have a page / post on this site to design and format such an entry. 

YOU are at liberty to lay out the form/page as you please, but bear in mind the text that follows.
The draft submission, if necessary, shall be edited. An edited draft shall be re-sent to you for final adjustments and approval by you. When ready the form is published as a post on the ZamArt Blog. Visitors can access the post via the sidebar on the monitor screen by clicking on the page Art Players and from there on to your name, or by clicking Artists’ Profiles under Labels in the sidebar and from there move to your entry.
HOW to proceed?
1.   The easiest way is to create a text on the computer. MS Word gives you the option, when starting a new document, to open it in blog format – that is what I am doing here. It is convenient but not necessary. When done, mail the document to zamfactor@gmail.comAsk a friend to help you if you are computer illiterate
2.   Bear in mind that it takes time to download your post. The heavier your post the longer it takes to download. Photographs are the main problem. For Internet publication you need a relatively low resolution (usually in jpeg format) and you also want a good quality picture. Start out with a good picture, either scanned or by digital camera. Standard web resolution is 72 pixels/inch. If you scan: scan photo/picture at this resolution. Save scan as a file. Check if it came out all right. Adjust/correct if necessary and if you can. Size on screen of your scanned picture depends on your screen resolution. For digital photo’s: select (if possible) a relatively small size (e.g., 640 x 480), load into your computer, adjust if necessary and send as e-mail. Send your pictures as mail attachments. As a general guideline keep your entry under 200 KB. That number is enough for 1 page of text having about 4 good quality pictures (in jpeg). And less is better, until the days when we shall have genuine broadband, affordable and for all. Picture size on Internet publication are easily adjusted and hence their "weight" as expressed in Kb's. Just make sure not to send excessively heavy mails by attaching pictures having a high resolution as required for printing. Internet is happy with the 72 dpi standard.
3.   Read these guidelines and notes carefully before you start.
4.  Need assistance? Mail to: zamfactor@gmail.com

GENERAL layout – but do go about it as you wish
Below are itemized elements that can go into the design of your profile. Items 1, 2 and 8 must be done. The others are optional, and you can add topics of your own. You may also add-on and modify later, following initial submission.
You can follow the numbered list below, or write your thing as a story (like: I am Samsom Phiri, I was born in Katete in 1958. I am a painter. I got into painting because at secondary school I did better in art &c.).
1.   Your name is the title of your post (placed where in this post you read Artists’ Profile Format). Start with your surname, for example: PHIRI, Samson
2.   Date the document and in the next line under write: last update:           . This helps visitors to your post to assess information provided.
3.   Contact me. Provide if you want, phone numbers (in international format, 00260-(0)xxx xxx xxx, and if you have and want, e-mail address(es). If you already are on the Internet somewhere, provide the link. Same for membership of social electronic networks as facebook or twitter. Update when necessary. Note that provision of internet addresses is not without risk and open to abuse.
4.   Art Education. You may want to state formal art related education you have enjoyed (or been a victim of), major workshops you participated in, and perhaps apprenticeships or informal working with senior artists from whom you learned a lot.
5.   Prizes and awards. You can mention these if you have been the lucky recipient, stating date, place, name of the award and award issuing organisation.
6.   Membership of art organisations & social activities. You may want to mention art organisations you are a member of, especially if you have done some real work in there; and other social activity you are or were engaged in.
7.   Publications. You may, if applicable, want to list publication of texts by your hand, or publications in which you feature. Note that there is an option of publishing on this site.
8.   Main techniques practiced. Itemize techniques (“lines of production”) in which you do make art work. It would be nice to have photographic examples of each technique by your hand. Provide details of these works: title, year of production, technique, size. If you want also say where it is (in the collection of so and so, whatever the case may be) and add other information as you like. It would make sense to illustrate your technical competencies by what you consider to be your major works of art.
9.   Main exhibitions. Itemize exhibitions where your work has been on display. Detail year and location, add what you want to add.
10.                Art and me. You may want to write a brief story about your life as an artist and, by your choice, go into topics like: what got you into art; your best works; fellow artists that have influenced you; institutions or organisations that have supported you; what you think / feel you want to do as an artist; things that frustrate you and things that elevate you; what we can do to make art work better (in Zambia); or whatever it is you would like to say.
11.                State Comment settings: allowed or not allowed. A comment is a reaction of a viewer to your post meant for publication, annexed to your post. See next section. The default is: do not allow comments.
Look at your page from the viewpoint of a visitor: try to get this person, unknown to you and to whom you almost mysteriously are electronically connected, interested in your art work. Do not be shy of a bit of self-promotion. Use this instrument to boost your reputation, sales, and electronic social network.

PUBLICATION, e-mail and Comments
Blogs are (mini)websites that have the option of response by a visitor. A comment is one such response, an e-mail another. Visitors can directly e-mail to you, the artist, in case you have provided the mail to: link in your post. They can make a comment (meant for Internet publication) if the comment option is turned on in the settings of your page / post. A submitted comment, if the comment option is allowed, is screened by the blog administrator, to avoid publication of malicious & other undesirable material. The comment, if passed, is published and can be accessed via the comment button at the bottom of your page screen.

ART selling artist
Artists offering their art for sale using the Art for Sale facility of this site should have their profile posted to allow interested parties to get to know the artist by a few clicks.