After a seven-year break, the Wildlife and Environmental Society of Malawi (Wesm) Arts Fest returns from June 12 to 23 at Four Seasons in Lilongwe to showcase the country’s diverse artistic talent.
Festival producer Pádraic MacOireachtaigh said for many years the arts fest presented visual art exhibitions, connected artists to buyers and showcased the ‘finest’ of Malawi’s artistic talent before it went into silence.
He said among those invited to attend the June fest include diplomats and government officials who will in turn help to take Malawian art to the global stage and local public spaces and people’s living rooms.
“The festival will also be a space for discussion about the role of art in society, and about issues of conservation and ecology in a Malawian context. We hope to provide an opportunity for artists to sell their work, for people to discover new voices and for artists to connect with each other,” MacOireachtaigh said.
He said he believes that at the end, the arts fest will add value to wildlife and environmental conservation in Malawi.
“By showcasing site-specific work, art that engages with the landscape around it, artists will speak to our own human position within a geography of hope.
“Currently, we are seeing the tragic effects of a volatile climate and we hope the festival will provide a space for discussion around issues of climate justice, the value of conservation, and the role of the artist within these spheres,” he states.
In addition to live performances, workshops, and talks from artists, there will be a silent auction on the opening evening with the theme ‘Green’.
“While artists may submit and exhibit any of their work, we are encouraging new pieces – linked to the ‘Green’ theme – whether in colour or concept.
“Artists are encouraged to interpret the ‘Green’ theme as imaginatively as they like. Those works connected to the theme will be featured in the silent auction, but other pieces are also very welcome,” added MacOireachtaigh.
Currently, the organisers are accepting submissions of works of art ranging from painting, sculpture, photography, video, graphic design, performance art, textiles, sketches, cartoons and ceramics to be exhibited at the festival.
In a separate interview, one of the organising committee members and visual artist, Nyangu Chodola, says proceeds from the festival “will go towards holding similar events in future.”