By Ogova Ondego
Published August 30, 2016
Her name is Gemini Vaghela and she shall have an installation of scarves created from digital prints of her original artwork during her exhibition scheduled for September 3-30, 2016 at Nairobi National Museum (NNM).
So why does Vaghela’s ‘wearable art’ idea strike me?
“The idea to create wearable prints came about when I realised that a huge number of people visit museums and galleries,” says Vaghela who has been practising art for more than 15 years. “By making my art wearable and easy to carry around, the message of conservation is spread easily.”
And this reminds me of the PowerPoint presentation I made during a meeting of movie practitioners gathered in Nairobi on August 29, 2016—yesterday—in which I argued that it is difficult for one to appreciate a work of art that doesn’t provide its form and the context within which it is created. For instance, appreciating a movie, a song, a story or a painting calls for one to understand:
• the aim of its creator
• the elements captured in it
• the ways in which the various elements contribute to the creator’s goal
• the context within which it evolved, and
• the connection of that particular creation to other creations by the creator.
So, how do we appreciate Vaghela’s work that is mainly mixed media paintings using acrylic paint, sand, paper, saw dust, spray paint and ink?
That Gemini Vaghela holds a degree in Interactive Multimedia Technologies and diploma in Photography enables her to “appreciate the unique quality of hand-painting in relation to media prints.”
That Gemini Vaghela operates out of Kobo Trust, “a humanitarian foundation which operates within Kobo Safaris Destinations” travel management company whose aim is “to provide support to different projects in the areas of education, food, healthcare and disadvantaged communities” makes it possible for the artist to focus on “nature conservation, especially in relation to long term sustainability of resources.”
Vaghela’s month-long exhibition in the Creativity Gallery of NNM is titled, “What we need; What we are doing.”
Established in 2008 Kobo Trust is “a Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) division of Kobo Safaris Ltd” whose aim is to channel contributions from its “clients towards positive development projects that assist the communities in [the areas in] which [it] operate[s].”
This, therefore, would make Vaghela to engage in what can loosely be referred to as ‘art for development’: As humans need sustainable resources, so humans must do something—conserve nature—to attain their aim.
Gemini Vaghela says she works with abstract art form to define her understanding of a situation as she perceives it. The aim of her work, she says, is to draw “viewers to the deeper meaning behind the work, creating an emotional response which will keep them thinking about each piece long after they have moved on.”
So what has Gemini Vaghela done prior to joining Kobo Trust?
She says she has been a practising artist for more than 15 years.
“I joined the Blender Art Gallery in Perth, Western Australia, where I was living for about 10 years and participated in annual exhibitions held for residents,” she says.
Since moving to Nairobi, Vaghela—whose artwork was selected for the UN Expo Milano 2015 and singled out for their official press release—says she has held exhibitions in NNM, Banana Hill Art gallery, Mediterraneo Restaurant, Village Market, Kuona Trust art walk, Karen Country Club and The Souk Gallery.