BY CLINTON TUMANYE AND ELIZABETH AMONGIN t is an intensely hot afternoon. The ground beneath seems to be pleading for mercy to the scotching sun to relent to some clouds for shade, to no avail. However, focused artists do not seem to mind the heat as they enthusiastically carry on in preparation for the art exhibition. First up in front of the art school building is Lenace Mukama, a third- year student of Industrial Fine Art (BIFA) at Uganda Christian University (UCU) Mukono. Clad in a neat, white T-shirt and pair of black trousers, she holds a pallet in her left palm. In her other hand is a scraper, which she uses to scrub on the pallet. She is immersed in her work and barely notices our approach. But when she does, she is glad to pause for a chat. “I stand up for what I believe in, I know where I am going,” Mukama says. “Many people shun you when you are a Christian artist but it is okay. I believe in standing up for what is right,” she adds. And it is this conviction that she has conveyed in the portrait that she is working on. The glossy colours that appear radiant have been used to illuminate the serene yet confident look in the woman’s eyes. And Mukama’s classmates expressed various other aspects of human life in the recently concluded art exhibition for finalist BIFA students. They sought to inform, educate and entertain society too.
Dazzling Art School The students’ exhibition covered areas in ceramics, graphics, interior design, fashion and sculpture. Ashe Grace Sebulime a lecturer of interior design and painting says that the exhibition enabled them to upgrade the look of the school, which was initially plain. “The students have to practice what they will do after they graduate. Art is a practical course and clients want to see what you were able to learn from the school of art through your work. Practice is the ultimate of learning art and this is exactly what these students gain from such initiatives,” Sebulime says.
Josephine Nyende, an interior design tutor, says the project started with something as simple as asking for paint from the department to recondition the dilapidated building. “I teach interior designing and I did not like the fact that each time we came to do an exhibition, the whole place looked dull. There was no colour and excitement. I therefore called upon my contemporaries to do something about it,” she adds. “We hope to make the students understand the behaviour of colour, and also give a face lift to the place. Our prospectus is to have the walls covered with students’ pieces, which will be changed once every two years,” Nathan Omile, also a lecturer at the department, says.
Sebulime however notes that the exhibition as well showed creativity as most students produced contemporary work. Challenges In spite of the ability by all the 45 BIFA students who showcased their work, Dr William Kayamba, the head of the Fine Art Department, said there was concern that the students do not major in one particular area of art. “There is a need for us to sit down as a department and streamline the guidelines of majoring in one branch,” he adds. According to Patrick Massa, a BIFA finalist, another challenge is that as much as the materials for the exhibition are provided, they are inadequate. “And the time and money put into the production of the exhibition does not equate to what the clients are willing to pay for the products.
Time and money is invested to produce quality work but clients want to purchase these products at lower prices,” he says. The finalist also believes that it would be good if the exhibition is put in a more open area instead of Tech Park, such that the turnout of both students and staff is higher. As much as most students worked hard to produce quality work, the lecturers believe that there were those who produced last-minute work hence low marks. This on the other hand never affected the entire exhibition since some students had both sophisticated, contemporary and neat work.