Evelyn Chisambiro is an accountant by profession. This is a profession that is demanding.
But despite being in the accounting field, the Lilongwe-based visual artist, is so passionate about art. This is why she has taken art head on and embraced it fully as well as refine her skills to be where she is today.
She has never been to any art school to develop her artistic skills but she believes her talent is inborn and thus she is thankful to God for this exceptional talent.
Currently working for Save the Children in the Grant Management, Evelyn, who obtained her accounting degree in United Kingdom at Anglia Ruskin University, said her artistry has moved in phases starting in primary school where she used to draw for fun and then secondary school where she continued with her art but stopped when she finished her form four.
“But it was always at the back of my mind and so, in 2015 I thought I would try painting and that is how I started to paint. I taught myself,” Evelyn said.
She said she does not just draw for the sake of it but she wants to use her art to tell stories as well as express herself and show the beauty of art.
Evelyn is among the few female artists in the country, who are enjoying art and her target is to do more including representing the country on the international stage.
Her love for telling stories and tackling various issues affecting the society has seen her painting some artworks speaking volumes of Covid-19 pandemic which has hit the world and continues to claim lots of lives.
“Several artists have joined the rest of the world in using their art to talk about Covid-19 pandemic and bring awareness to the masses. I decided to work on my own artworks as well. I have others that I have painted on different subjects,” she said.
“As artists we speak for the voiceless and we also disseminate messages on different subjects in order to bring awareness and through my artworks I am doing that,” Evelyn said.
According to Evelyn, her interests are pictures that tell a story and that can simply be liberty, freedom or happiness.
“As a woman, I enjoy painting women with afro more because they represent a new wave of liberty and confidence, rewriting the norm of beauty that once meant straightened hair,” she said.
Her name may not be top there as far as visual arts is concerned in the country but she believes she is going the right direction.
She has so far managed to exhibit three times – at Art in the Park in Lilongwe twice and once at Blantyre Arts Festival (Baf).
“I am still learning but I hope to keep finding ways to tell different stories,” Evelyn said.
She admits that when she was starting her artistry in 2015, she was not confident and that it was because of her lack of confidence that she stopped painting for some months.
She however, returned to the fold in 2017 and this time determined to paint all the way regardless of the challenges on the ground.
Art is something she loves and that she cannot do without it but she does not spend all her time painting.
“It all varies. I work full time as an accountant and paint when I get inspired. Sometimes months can go without painting but with the love, I always come back and paint. When I am inspired, I can go for weeks painting different things. During those times, I paint in the evenings and weekends but to sum it up I enjoy both roles as I give time to each trade,” Evelyn said.
The visual artist grew up in Blantyre and went to Baptist Primary School before going for her secondary education to Our Lady of Wisdom in Blantyre and then Marymount in Mzuzu.
Evelyn started drawing at the age of nine.
“My desk mate at the time had a brother, who used to draw cartoon characters and she would bring them to school. I was so mesmerized by the drawings that I later started trying them out myself and that marked the journey of my drawing. My love for art just grew more and more from there on,” she said.
Evelyn said being a female artist has been more beneficial than challenging for her as an artist.
“I am happy that today there are a lot of female artists in the country unlike in the past. I am also happy that female artists are not afraid of showing their talents and that to me is an opportunity to encourage girls to see that they too can make it in this field although it is still a male dominated world,” she said.
Evelyn describes visual art as not a man’s job but a talent that can be embraced by men and women.
“I have had two favourite highlights in this field, one was when I took part in an exhibition at Blantyre Arts Festival and a lot of schools were invited to the festival. I was the only female artist that exhibited works. The reactions I got from girls motivated me to work hard in my artistry,” she said.
Her second highlight in her artistic game was when she was invited by Centre for Youth Empowerment and Civic Education to talk to the youth at their annual conference on girls’ education.
“This to me was special and rewarding to inspire and encourage girls that they can. They can be whatever they want – artists, astronauts or mechanics. There is no limit to their dreams,” she said.
Evelyn said she hopes to work with more young people going forward and to keep growing in what she is doing so as to cross the borders with her art.
“Art for me is a bridge between words and one’s imagination. Painting and drawing like any other form of art allows the artists to address different subjects from their perspective,” the visual artist said.
She maintains that art to her is words, the world in the eyes of the artist, current situations and emotions put in a visual form.
“Art challenges me because it is a form of expression and can tell different stories that others can see, relate or simply admire. I like how each piece/painting tells a different story depending on the one looking at it. I also like the joy art brings to people,” Evelyn said.