The road to KLA ART ’24 has begun! This week begins a series of workshops on materials, process, and care as heritage. Covering different aspects of cultural heritage and care from ethno-botany to natural dyes, basketry to textiles, these workshops will give deeper insight into different practices, create opportunities for exchange between the artists, and provide more inspiration as they prepare for the festival.

For Day 1 we welcomed Patrick Maundu, an accomplished ethnobotanist who joins us from Nairobi where he sits on the board of the Trust for Indigenous Culture and Health (TICAH) 

Mr. Maundu covered the differences between local, traditional and indigenous knowledge, the necessity of biodiversity and the importance of preserving and passing down indigenous knowledge to sustaining the food systems that keep our entire ecosystem alive

On Day 2 of the KLA ART ‘24 workshops, we welcomed Mirembe Musisi for a conversation on Recipes, Resilience and Regeneration.

Mirembe Musisi is an artist whose practice revolves around the garden and the kitchen. She also runs HumanKind, a line of fermented probiotic products. Mirembe reminded us of our intrinsic connection to nature as a part of it and how that shows up in our food systems and culture. She also took us through a practical fermentation class where participants made their own sauerkraut!

We also received a wonderful tour from Principal Assistant curator Mary Namaganda at the herbarium of the Makerere University Department of Plant Science, Microbiology and Biotechnology that houses just under 100,000 specimens of plants from Uganda

Day 3 of the KLA ART ‘24 workshops was all about natural dyes with Mr. Patrick Tungo Apuuli. The KLA ART artists connected with Mr. Tungo thanks to his Fort Portal neighbour and long-time 32° East Member Ruganzu Bruno. Mr Tungo has been working with natural dyes and basket weaving for over 30 years!

Mr. Tungo, together with assistant Clovis as well as his son Patrick held a hands-on masterclass that immersed the artists in the process of natural dye making. While the process had many variations, some basic steps included

🌿 treating the raffia with rock salt to prime it to hold the dye
🌿 boiling the raffia till it softened
🌿 preparing the different plants like beetroot, madder root, mufoka, achiote and ginseng for boiling, through pounding or peeling
🌿 boiling the prepared plants, and then adding the raffia and bringing the entire mixture to boil
🌿 awe from seeing what different colours emerged!

The artists also learned how ash and heat might interact to create new shades.

Thank you to Mr. Tungo for sharing his wealth of knowledge and opening the artists’ eyes to the possibilities for art-making all around in the natural world.

Day 4 of the KLA ART ‘24 workshops were facilitated by Liz Kobusinge and Sheila Nakitende who led sessions around memory and material. Liz and Sheila have been working with barkcloth paper for a combined 10+ years! Both of their art-making practices centre repair, restoration and material culture.

The first day allowed for the KLA ART artists to get to know Liz and Sheila’s work and get their hands wet by making barkcloth paper from whole pieces of barkcloth. Artists embellished their paper with all sorts of natural materials; from the dyes they made in a previous workshop, to flowers collected from the 32 garden, to the earth around them. It is already evident how each is shifting their thinking about materials.

Day 5 was the second day of Liz and Sheila’s workshop. It saw the artists exhibit work they had made over the weekend using the materials and processes they have been learning. The barkcloth paper had had time to dry and the artists incorporated it into their pieces in different and wonderful ways.

Day 6 was the final day of the workshops and the day’s session was led by Sanaa Gateja who led the artists through weaving techniques. The artists twisted rope out of the raffia they dyed in the earlier session with Mr. Tungo. Sanaa and his assistants then led the artists through different techniques of weaving including on a hand-made loom.

The day ended with an Ekyooto session led by Dr. Margaret Nagawa. Sitting around the fire, Dr. Nagawa led the artists through a conversation on care in the work of sculptors Francis Nnagenda and Dr. Lilian Nabulime.