August 19, 2013
Wanted to do a second mural in Africa after completing my first one which was done in Morocco in 2011. Had my eye on Nairobi for a long time and finally managed to get my chance to paint there in March of this year. It was a project very personal to me as it had a lot of history attached to it and I had a life changing experience whilst completing it.
I have known most the team members of vision 2020 for much of the earlier years of my life, and remember playing or rather observing them playing football on the same ground since the early nineties. The team had two separate divisions back then, the younger age group was around 8-10 years and the older around 14-18 years. It is super inspiring to see my friends and the kids, who are now grown men, having continued their passion for the sport, forming a league and now, using football as a tool for social change.
Having been benched for most of my time there [played football for fun, was either the goalkeeper or linesman -ish, whereas they were the pros and had a passion for it] it was a refreshing change to contribute something to the football pitch that they use and cement my history as part of and one of the lifelong supporters and members of Vision2020 FC [albeit creatively] . See the link below for more on the team and their activities. http://www.vzhon2020.kbo.co.ke/
The idea behind the mural was to create a narrative going round the pitch, where the ball is passed from one player to the other, each catching or interacting with it in their own style, until finally it reaches the striker, shot is taken, goalkeeper is caught unaware and its a goal. Time was tight and the grounds large making it an ambitious design to attempt but I am happy with where it is going*. I managed to get the help of two industrial designers from China, Rebecca and Kacey, who were staying at a local hostel and I am very grateful for their efforts as it cut my workload by half, as well as providing a fun jamming experience for all of us. It was their first attempt at doing/working on a collaborative mural. Total time spent on the work above was two weeks of painting, fitting in 4-5 hours a day as I had a few projects and errands to complete whilst working on the mural.
Super close to the end of the project I was struck down by Cerebral Malaria [having gone out of Nairobi a few weeks prior to painting] and this landed me in hospital for 1 week. Will not go into too many details, but it was a life changing experience, one day I was eating sugar cane and painting in the sun, next day I was in hospital with tubes running in and out and around me. From a creative point of view, it gave me the motivation to work harder and put out more material, from a living life perspective, it gave me a lot to think about and appreciate.
*I had to slow down and as a result, one side remains unfinished. I use the term unfinished loosely as to me it is a more “to be continued”. Gives me the motivation to go back, and also hopefully come back with some of my crew and friends to paint. Never thought I would say it but there is too much wall out there for me, plus sharing is caring. Plans is to drop down in Nairobi at some point in 2014 and pick up where I left off.
Needless to say, it was still one of the best experiences and most fun mural that I have worked on. To see the grounds transformed, reaction of the players, kids and local residents and to be part of my friends team and history is priceless. A big inspiration during this project was Margaret Kilgallen. Her style and works are beautiful, and since it is the second black and white piece I have done in almost 13 years, drew on her for visual guidance. “Always see the line waiver, thats where the beauty is” … a quote by a talented artist and it means a lot to me in more ways than one.