Prof Kirumira returns with cultural artifacts

09:22 by Kaggwa Andrew
When professors at Makerere University’s Margaret Trolley’s school of Art give their all to an exhibition in terms of space, money and food, the art involved must be as rich as a massed African musical and as haunting as a village mansion – all those memories.
No one could have imagined the impressive things art, wood and metal can do until they attended the Archives – Tradition and Artistic Inspiration by prof. Rose Kirumira Namubiru that opened at the Margaret Trolley Gallery on Friday.
It’s a show about family, faith and a reminder of the different tree species that Uganda has been endowed with but slowly becoming extinct. 
Though, Kirumira notes that she didn’t cut down any trees, in fact, she picked on wastes from already cut Mivules and mahoganies.
She says that her main objective was to create awareness for Uganda’s material culture and take part in a discussion on collective nationalism and its relationship with the artisanal skills developed by our ancestors.
In the exhibition, Kirumira presents work based on various traditional objects. In some ways the works on display are repositories; they achieve certain traditional forms, patterns, technologies and functions - It was clear she preyed on culture to veer out emotions as well as express herself.
However, Kirumira’s work also exhibits the kind of freedom she must have had while doing the work on show; she didn’t allow herself to be constrained by her own traditions thus exploited depths of different African and world cultures to get her message across; some of the pictures like The family portrait and the holy family are combined with key locks she picked from a dumpster in Denmark and others pieces of wood were collected from other trash and dustbins around the country.
The most sought after piece on showcase was the culminating Month of May; a collection of used tea bags. “It represents that particular month and the cycle of artistic production in relation to the monthly reproductive cycle,” she says, the tea bags in the craft are at different stages of use and framed in a surgical band as a means of protection.
Month of May was she was attending the Thami Mnyele Residency, Netherlands in 2003. The work also featured in the exhibition Afrika; Here and Now in Amsterdam.
Some of the pieces are personal, Thesis;- that happens to be her PHD research, the work has a pile of books placed on the few surviving colonial tables that were used at Makerere when it had just opened ninety one years ago. She made the books out of organic materials and wood bits, the piece is completed by her real thesis, a ninety something well numbered, labeled but empty book.
Kirumira is a senior lecturer at Makerere School of Industrial and Fine Art, she’s one of the few widely recognized and well exhibited female sculptors in Uganda diversifying through relief and round categories of the genre. She’s also made outstanding public monuments such as the statue of Kabaka Ronald Mutebi at the Buganda parliament where she worked under renown prof. Francis Nnaggenda.


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