Last week I presented you two fibre artist and their colourful works I per chance got to know on my short visit of Erfurt. And I promised you a second part with yet an even cooler artists: Hellen Nabukenya. Dear needleworkers grab all your yarnends, fabric scraps and tiny threads, after reading about Hellen Nabukenya you will never again throw them away 😀
Hellen Nabukenya is a known artist from Uganda who works with fashion discarded materials. She has currently an exhibition in Kunsthalle Erfurt, so if you live nearby, perhaps you have a chance to visit this amazing exhibition.
Her artworks, huge carpets, wallhangings and accessories make use of
discarded fabric scraps, which others deemed worthless. The carpets
excited me because of their amazing hues: from afar I got the impression
of a one coloured carpet for example in a deep brownish green, like the
wild sea, but observing the carpet from nearby I noticed that it is
made from hundreds of multicoloured fabrics which are sewn and knotted
together. The long fabric scraps are arranged so cleverly that they
result in a harmonious whole.
The exhibition in Erfurt is presented with a clever dramaturgy. The
observer is led through a corridor where he can observe at first only
her wahllhangings and accessories, but which will ultimately led into a
renaissance room (with stucco and paintings) which is completely filled
with a huge carpet and a sound installation which explained the
background of this exhibition.
The room is amazing, an explosion of colors and a tactility which is
unique because of the long fabric scraps Nabukenya uses for her carpets.
The visitor can step onto the carpets (with a protective cover over
their shoes) and sit down to experience them in community with other
The exhibition of Nabukenya is made in collaboration with another
artist, Matthias Körner, who discovered Nabukenya in Uganda and worked
together with her. He made a documentary film about her creative process
(which is shown at the exhibition) and a sound collage which can be
Listenende to in the renaissance room. The exhibition which has the
title „Tuwaye“ which means „lets talk“ not only presents the artworks of
Nabukenya, but also the social change she initiates through her works.
Let‘s talk is an invitation to explore the stories behind the carpets.
Nabukenya does not work alone on these huge projects but engages woman
who otherwise have a tough time to make a living. She teaches them
beforehand how to design and sew clothing and then they all together
work on Nabukenyas artworks. The work is done with sharing stories and
feelings, sometimes this being the main reason to meet (for example if
there is no fabric to have for working on the artworks).
Nabukenyas artworks talk about the hardship of living as a woman in
Uganda and they show a way how support between woman can change the
living for the better.
Nabukenya has studied textile design and styling in Kampala and already during her studies she started to work as an artist. You can find her on facebook and you can read more about the exhibition in Erfurt here.