By Ogova Ondego
Published March 18, 2014
Geraldine Robarts, one of the best known painters in Nairobi, shall hold an exhibition dubbed African Soul at Nairobi National Museum, March 29-April 18, 2014.
The exhibition shall be officially opened by Christian Turner, the British High Commissioner to Kenya, at a two hour ceremony starting at 2.00pm on March 29.
A former lecturer in Fine Art and in Audio-Visual Communications and Head of Art Education at Uganda’s Makerere University (1964-1970) and Head of Painting at Kenya’s Kenyatta University College (1977-1979), Robarts is said to be a ‘born colourist who is captivated by the life of East Africans.
“it is true I like painting all the time and I believe painting is a feast for the eye,” the London (England)-born who grew up in South Africa says.
A worker with women’s groups in Kenya since 1972, Robarts is said to have brought the craft of Batik making from Indonesia to Uganda and then to Kenya in the 1960s with a view to mitigating the high price of paints, brushes, and canvas in East Africa.
Come the 1990s, Robarts, who holds a Bachelor’s degree from University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg and a Master’s from Kenya’s University of Nairobi created workshops for making colourful ornamental sisal weaving and wall-hangings in Kitui, eastern Kenya.
“She also introduced solar fruit drying of mangoes and for 20,000 people at Kalimani, Kitui, facilitated the development of the health centre and water scheme providing water even in times of drought,” her website says.
She won a Gold Medal at Artists of Fame and Promise Exhibition in Palermo, Italy, in 1980.
As a teacher, Robarts has no doubt planted her footprints all over East Africa: she trained post-graduate students for the Diploma in Education as well as Bachelor of Education students as teachers for East Africa at Makerere; lectured on crafts training at Nairobi’s YMCA Crafts Training Centre; supervised mural paintings on village shops by school children at Kisugu in Uganda; organised and conducted workshops on paper-making, dyeing, weaving, wax printing and claywork for the Kindergarten Headmistresses Association of Kenya; organised and conducted handicraft workshops for youth on papermaking and the use of vegetable dyes at Kenya Institute of Education (KIE); organising and conducting handicraft workshops for primary and secondary schools in conjunction with KIE in Nairobi;developed and designed the new UNESCO Sourcebook for Art Education: Traditional Techniques in Art Education from East Africa (206 pages, printed 1985 in five languages); and designed an educational kit of 300 slides for Art school teachers on the use of traditional artistic techniques from West Africa.