Margareta Akinyi Ochola ventured in art at the age of five when her mother bought her coloured pencils and paper and urged her to experiment with her imagination. Her first exhibition was held in her parents’ living room and verandah. She talks to OGOVA ONDEGO.
Targeting families in their neighbourhood, Ochola says “even children came and dragged some of my valuable paintings across the room giving me nightmares.”She exhibited everything from landscapes, wildlife, skies, vegetation and any subject under the sun to the delight of her guests.
Although there were paintings of buildings and people, Ochola says these are boring subjects which she does not enjoy. While experimenting with skies, she says, one of them turned out to be a sea “because of harsh painting strokes which gave it the image of rough sea waves.” Her goal in “bringing art to the people in the estates” is to popularise art. “I want to educate people that art shows are free and that one is not obligated to buy anything,” she says, adding that it was almost comical to see a woman ask her husband what she should do at her exhibition as she appeared lost!
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Selling is at the moment not crucial, she explains, because her parents take care of all her needs as she lives with them. Ochola, who does everything from etching to oil and watercolour painting, and sculpture to fibreglass making, explains that she is trying her hand at everything as “I am trying to discover myself and what I am cout out for.” She is obsessed with tubes and trains and planes, though. Ochola won the first prize at the eighth European film festival at Maison Francaise in 1999 for doing a poster that best captured the theme of the event.She also participated in the Telkom Kenya sculpture and mural competition the same year and won a prize.
Ochola attended Makini and Kenya High schools before going to the University of Nairobi for a bachelor’s degree in meteorology. She is now pursuing a master’s in the same discipline.