Chelenge: Kenyan wood sculptor stands strong with people with disabilities

“I am Kenya’s first woman sculptress,” Chelenge says, as we step through a low, thatch-roof verandah and into her light-filled home studio— a sprawling bungalow where rooms flow effortlessly into one another, like a river. The walls are an immaculate whitewash and the cement screed floor is painted with red oxide, creating a perfect backdrop for Chelenge Van Rampelberg’s rich collection of paintings, and her own wooden sculptures—some nearly touching the ceiling, others at eye level.

As we meander among the sculptures I am struck by the expressions on the carvings – alive, serene, defiant. Some lips are upturned into small smiles. Many of the figures are missing something… a breast, an arm, both legs …

“What’s up with the disabilities?” I ask Chelenge, and spark off a monologue.

“I believe the ugliest thing in the world is the most beautiful.

“See this cripple here? He’s too, can give a nice, strong hug to this beautiful girl he loves.

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These are a few of my favourite Podcasts

Covid Has Truly Shown Us Things!

One of these for me is the seemingly inexhaustible supply of informative, entertaining, and uplifting podcasts that’s out there.

The podcast, IMHO, is god’s gift to the multitaskers of this world… I often listen while driving, walking, cooking, sewing, chilling, whatever. Plus, unlike a watching a video or scrolling through twitter, listening to a podcast is not antisocial, and can be enjoyed with other people.

Here are a few podcasts I’ve enjoyed during the Pandemic! Krista Tippet’s OnBeing is my all-time favourite channel, so many on the list are from there.

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An artist with something to say about ‘the teachers’ cry’, courage, and Kenyans’ bumbling sense of art: Meet Dickens Otieno, Kenya’s metal weaver par excellence

Mixed media artist Dickens Otieno has been at the Manjano Visual Arts Exhibition in Nairobi March- April 2016.

We talked metal school uniforms, books that don’t open, and why Kenyans are always peering into art pieces looking for a picture they can hold on to. The Godown Arts Centre artist had some good advice for educators and for people too timid to pursue their dream.

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