Name: Nadia Wanjiru Wamunyu
Occupation: Visual Artist
Location / Base: GoDown Arts Centre
Social Media or Website Links:
Creative Enterprise Bio
My name is Nadia Wanjiru Wamunyu, I am a 22 years old Kenyan artist. I started drawing as soon as I was old enough to hold pencils and water colors.
My inspirational mentor has been Patrick Mukabi at the GoDown Art Centre, who took me on as his student in 2010. One of my drawings I won first prize in the student category of the 2013 for Manjano Art Exhibition.
Displays of my artwork have been done at Village Market, Alliance Francise, Panafric hotel, Dari Hotel, British Council, Sarit Centre and Kuona Trust art centre and many more.
I use charcoal on paper and canvas, paint on canvas, glass and plastic sculpture, face paintings, oil pastels, oil paints and white chalks to create my artwork. Now I am based at GoDown Art Centre.
Creative Journey / Creative Lifecycle
I was born in 1993 at Lang’ata Hospital, Nairobi. From the time I was three when my Nubian mother Buthaina Ibrahim first bought me water colors I had a paint brush in my hand and I started the painting causally in the house (urban in Lang’ata), it was my way of withdrawing since most children could not understand me (according to my dad). My inspiration was my Kikuyu Father Teddy Wamunyu, he encouraged me to work with my hand as I was disadvantage by my disability. I have a condition called profound hearing loss and I can barely hear without wearing hearing gadgets.
I always tell my clients to be loud when talking to me. The same year I lost my hearing the age of 3 before after a strong dose of antibiotics was administered by a doctor, so my twin sister Sadia Wambui became the chatterbox of the family. Before I lost my hearing I was normal. The family didn’t realize my problem right away. Instead, they nearly accepted my nursery school teacher’s assessment that she was mentally handicapped and thus could not remain in their school. Fortunately, my family had my properly tested and found out my brain was fine. I was just as quick and gifted as my twin sister although from then on she has worn a hearing aid. But that hasn’t hampered her development as a visual artist, especially as I had the full support of my parents. There were the water colours from my mother and drawing pencils from my father who had seen my artistic talent early on and aimed to nurture it.
All through primary school at Lang’ata Junior School I was able to paint and by the time I did standard six I had a painting for which the owner of the school paid for and I was hooked, so I drew everything I saw. However, there was no art in my secondary school at Compuera Mang’u Girls School at the boarding; so I relied on the little exposure I got in primary school. That is why when I saw one of Kenya’s finest contemporary artists, Patrick Mukabi on Saturday morning TV teaching art to children, me and my parents went looking for him at his studio at the GoDown Art Centre in Nairobi’s Industrial Area.
My practice was done over the school holidays at the GoDown Art Centre.We simply walked into the GoDown one holiday when I was in Form Two with my father and twin sister, looked around, and introduced ourselves to Mubaki. We were amazed by his bold paintings in his studio. My father immediately decided he should mentor me. He is a renowned artist at the GoDown Art Centre, who took me on as his student. But I spent all my time with him during school holidays and once I completed my O-levels, I was at the GoDown full time. In all, I studied with him for four years; but he wasn’t my exclusive source of inspiration since his studio was like an old fashioned guild where a horde of other young Kenyans came regularly to learn from the Master, a gentle man who could rarely turn any aspiring artist away. Yet I was different from the rest. My parents paid for extra classes and he understood that I was special, not just because of my hearing problem but because my artistic gifts were manifest in the many charcoal drawings that I made.
My father, on noticing my new passion, went on overdrive seeking out art schools and artists to help nurture my talent. Patrick accepted to mentor me as opposed to teaching, and still while under his wing, and by then a student at Compuera Mang’u girls school, sold my first painting to the owner of the school Mrs. Muhoro. By the time I cleared Form Four I had sold three paintings to the school. The irony was, they did not offer art in their time table, I did my art over half terms and school holidays.
My paintings were displayed on a white wall and were a big attraction to those who attended the Manjano Art Exhibition in the Village Market and one of my drawing I won first prize in the student category 2013. I’m so excited and very humbled.
I have displayed artwork at:
• Village Market – Manjano Art Exhibition 2013
• Alliance Francise – Group Art Exhibiton 2013
• Panafric Hotel – 50years Art Exhitibition 2013
• University of Nairobi – Mobiles Art School of Kenya 2014
• Kuona Trust Art Centre – Art Walk 2014
• Dari Hotel – Sanaa Art Exhibition 2014
• British Council – Cocktail Launch 2014
• Sarit Centre – Kenya Art Fair 2014
• Hotel Baitil Aman in Shela, Lamu – Lamu Painters Festival 2015
• Best Western Premier Nairobi hotel – Pendo Art exhibition 2015
• Kigwa Conference Hotel – Art for Change 2015
• Strathmore University – Concerts Live 2015
• International school of Kenya – FOTA 2015
• Nairobi National Museum- Affordable Art Exhibition 2015
I aspire to have my own studio and venture into garden art and landscaping with my Dads help, as a means of extra income and even experiment with other forms i.e. portrait, landscaping, abstracts, wild animals, people and murals.
I was the only Kenyan invited to participate in the Lamu International Artists Festival in 2015. I received the invitation from Herbert Menzer from Germany to be part of the Lamu Painters Festival, I heard from Patrick that he felt he had taught me all he could and I was ready to go out on my own. He was right, of course. For despite being the only indigenous Kenyan painter at the 2015 Festival, my charcoal drawings were among the first to be sold at the Baitil Aman Hotel in Shela where all 14 painters were being exhibited.
I have been an artist in residency at Kuona Trust in 2015.
To be a global artist, art model, art teaching, art creative gallery, art photography and working establish artist as well.
Creativity, Professionalism, Honor, Quality, fairness, inspire and challenge
18 Months Plan
Looking for applying for an exhibition – Solo Exhibition
Marketing – Gallery and Exhibition (Local and International market)