Visual artists had a memorable weekend at Four Seasons Garden in Lilongwe when they participated in this year’s Art in the Park exhibition.
Paintings, curios and wood carvings transformed the garden into an outdoor art gallery featuring some of the best talents of Malawi.
There were 37 artists who brought their A-game to the garden and displayed their finest artworks.
For the organisers, moments like these and the platform for visual artists are what keep them going.
“Every time we hold this bi-annual event, we are excited to know artists are going to get exposed and make some money. Similarly, fans will be excited and buy more art,” said one of the organisers Nyangu Chodola.
He said while the turnout was affected by the global coronavirus pandemic, the artists have something to smile about.
“The outcome is just in the middle as some of the patrons have left Malawi because of Covid-19, while others are afraid of the bug.
“So, the turn up has been affected but surprisingly, we have sold a lot this time around and almost every artist has sold a piece,” said Chodola.
A visual artist himself, he bemoaned the lack of interest from locals towards fine art.
“In Malawi, we don’t appreciate or understand when an artist demands K100 000 for a piece. Malawians feel it’s expensive and they are being robbed,” said Chodola.
At the core of the event is an agenda of protecting and promoting the environment and wildlife, among others, that the Wildlife and Environmental Society of Malawi (Wesm) is championing.
Lilongwe branch Wesm chairperson Nick Hall said there has been a slow response from Malawians in embracing fine art and the event.
“We have been raising awareness about the environment but that is happening slowly. The issue is more Malawians are coming out now to take interest in the festival but few are buying. So, things are changing but at a slow pace,” he said.
This year’s Art in the Park was sponsored by European Union, House of Basse’iah, Sunny Money and a private donor. The next edition is planned for May depending on the Covid-19 situation in the country, according to the organisers.
An exhibitor Evelyn Chisambiro said she was pleased with the event.
“I managed to sell a few pieces. It is also fair to say this year’s exhibition had good quality pieces generally,” she said.
One of the pieces Chisambiro sold was a painting dedicated to a two-year-old baby girl that was recently raped and killed in Machinjiri, Blantyre.
One of the patrons at the event, Esau Kalichero, said the paintings were beautiful but too expensive.
“The artists are talented but I failed to buy anything due to economic challenges,” he said.