31 August, 2015


Post by Bert Witkamp
Published 31 August 1015

Below a list of art activities that in my view would make the Zambian Art World a more interesting and functional place to be in – and would do better justice to the art made in this country and the people who make it happen.
It is a short-medium term itinerary – mostly just ideas but some of these are presently practically worked on.

Detail of drawing by Aquila Simpasa (Chongwe collection).
He was one of the pioneers of modern art in Zambia,
yet his work and life are not documented.
1. EXHIBITIONS. A trilogy of exhibitions of Art in Zambia in social context by generation: 1960-1980, 1981-200, 2001 to present. Objective: provide comprehensive overview, build up historical awareness and understanding.
Requires booklet and educational activity for schools. 
The exhibition should be designed to travel to suitable venues in Zambia; in any case the Livingstone Art Gallery and the Lusaka National Museum. A slimmed down variant could perhaps be displayed at smaller facilities.

2. “THE INSIDE OUT HISTORY OF ART IN ZAMBIA.” An art history of personal accounts by those (or their associates) who made the Zambian Art World. Intended as Internet publication on a dedicated website or as a component of:

3. THE VIRTUAL MUSEUM OF ART IN ZAMBIA. Promoting this project was the idea behind the Art in Zambia blog I started in 2011. I now have decided to go ahead and presently am working on it in an as yet unpublished form.

4. Revise the N’GOMA ART AWARDS. Presently annually four prices are given out: 1 for 2-dim artist, 1 for 3-dim artist, 1 for female artist and one for upcoming artist. Zambia does not have sufficient artists for so many annual prices and the N’goma awards are not sufficiently funded to award artists with a substantial price. I’d say 1 substantial price annually is enough and better, rotating the current schedule. I don’t know if it still makes sense to have special prices for female artists – perhaps female artists by now are equally well positioned as the men. A substantial price, I would say, starts somewhere in the order of K 50,000; enabling the artist to work for some time without financial worries and possibly purchase art equipment and materials.

There are other issues, perhaps of greater importance but probably more remote in realization. Yet some of these need to be named.
  1. On top of the list is the need to have a genuine art CURATOR: I mean someone having an MA in a combination of Art History (with major in Zambian art by research and thesis) and Museum Studies (including preservation). It is appalling that we have several art collections, now located at the Lusaka National Museum, without an art professional = curator looking after these collections.
  2. A dedicated ART MUSEUM / CENTRE. The LNM never was designed as an art museum and is not well suited for such.
  3. Such museum could be placed in an ART PRECINCT (as proposed by Gwenda Chongwe and supported by others). A concentration of art/cultural facilities and activities by itself has a stimulating allover effect.