Visual artists in the country have been hit hard by effects of Covid.
And Minister of Tourism, Culture and Wildlife Michael Usi admitted in Parliament when he presented his speech that tourism and creative industry has suffered greatly with the effects of the pandemic which has claimed lots of lives globally.
Despite this challenge, some artists have continued to create works as well as embrace online platforms to reach out to the masses.
Sometimes one has to be brave to create a platform and showcase works even in the tough environment and you eventually end up winning.
One of the artists who have continued to create works during this period is Lilongwe-based Elson Kambalu, who has been all over social media posting some of his artworks.
The other artists who have not downed their tools in this period are Madalitso Ziwaoh, Charles Levison and Samuel Ndalema who decided to come up with an exhibition themed The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind.
This is an exhibition which tells the story of innovator William Kamkwamba and it first launched at The Chocolate Factory in Zomba before taking a break.
The exhibition was supposed to continue at Jacaranda Cultural Centre in Blantyre from Zomba but with Covid cases rising then, it did not progress.
Ziwaoh described the exhibition in Zomba as a success and that they were looking forward to do the same in Blantyre and Kasungu.
“We managed to sell paintings during the exhibition in Zomba and again we managed to reach out to people out there. We were supposed to start another exhibition at Jacaranda Cultural Centre in Blantyre on February 6 2021 but we failed to do so and instead a new date of March 6 2021 was set before a change was made again,” he said.
Ziwaoh said they were happy that finally the exhibition is back from March 27 to April 24 2021.
“We have been creating during this period and people will see new works during the exhibition and we are also looking at screening the film The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind which some people have not seen up to now,” he said.
JCC through its director Luc Deschamps said recently that they had put up a number of programmes but were still waiting for the situation to get better as regards increased cases of Covid then.
Ziwaoh also said that the exhibition has opened up opportunities for them as they are set to hold an art residency in Kasungu District as part of the project.
“I am actually working on some of the paintings which have been called for by the partners in the project. We have workshops and an exhibition coming up and the art residency,” he said.
The exhibition in Zomba was launched online where people were able to sample some of the artworks online.
During the launch in Zomba, Ziwaoh and fellow artists also took time out to show their skills by painting live.
“We sold a number of paintings and one of them is the one I painted live showing the beauty of Zomba,” he said.
Actor Kelvin Ngoma is also involved in the exhibition and is expected to conduct workshops. Ngoma is one of the Malawian actors who acted in the film The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind by Hollywood star Chiwetel Ejiofor.
The exhibition at JCC will also see other artists coming in and they are Andrew Missi and Thandi Mjima.
“During the launch, people will also have a chance of sampling live painting sessions and we have also added art lessons for children. The artworks which these children will produce will be taken to Kasungu to inspire other children,” Ziwaoh said.
He said through the exhibition and project they would want to show that Malawi has exciting stories that need to be told and that they have started with Kamkwamba.
“There are lots of stories that need to be told and documented out there. They can be documented through films and other art disciplines and for us we thought of utilising visual arts. This is also one way of inspiring children to take up art as a career and that is why we have art lessons,” he said.
Ziwaoh said the addition of art lessons for children in the JCC exhibition just shows that they are trying to change the way exhibitions are held.
The project is being driven by Art Malawi with Moving Windmill, a non-governmental organisation initiated by Kamkwamba.