By Steve Biko Abuya
Published May 19, 2014
Art lovers in Nairobi shall from the evening of May 19, 2014 be treated to a year-long exhibition of watercolour paintings on Kenya’s cultures and environmental conservation.
Dubbed ‘The Legacy of Joy Adamson Exhibition’, the event that runs daily in the Hall of Kenya at Nairobi National Museum is a tribute to Joy Adamson who began painting the wild flowers and indigenous people of Kenya shortly after her arrival in the then British colony in 1937.
The British Colonial Government officials who witnessed her talent, commissioned her to paint the twenty-two most important tribes in Kenya; she turned up with 132 portraits of people wearing colourful traditional costumes and jewelry.
Turning to animal conservation, Joy Adamson adopted three orphaned lion cubs. One of the cubs, Elsa, inspired her to write three books—Born Free tells of Elsa’s life with the Adamsons family, Living Free majors on Elsa’s adult life and her conception of three cubs and Forever Free tells of the lives of the three cubs—after releasing her into the wild. This made her a pioneer animal conservationist.
With most of her paintings on display at Nairobi National Museum, Joy Adamson is credited for being one of the first people to conserve Kenyan heritage and natural environment for which she won accolades both nationally and internationally as an author, illustrator and conservationist.
Today, Joy Adamsons’ works have not only featured in books and illustrations but also in films. However controversial her life may have been, her works remain to shape people’s views on art and conservation in Kenya. The exhibition ends in June 2015.