By Anne Ivers
In 2006, a London based artist, Alla Tkachuk, visited Kenya and offered to give art workshops in some of the schools there. She was saddened to discover that the arts were rarely taught in these schools and as a result the charity MASK was created. This charity, which is based in the UK, endeavours to nurture creativity in young people in Kenya and hence improve their lives and the lives of their communities as a whole.
This inspirational Charity has as its Patron, the Sudanese artist Ibrahim El Salahi, who is one of the most significant figures in African and Arabic modernism. Trustees include the acclaimed British actor Charles Dance. This charity created the yearly art and creation MASK prize which promotes creativity, innovation and self criticism. The prize is open to young Africans between,3 and 25 years of age.
The theme of the 2015 MASK prize was Creative Nations and its aim was to encourage young African people to think about the ways of celebrating and reflecting on the place they live in and the people that they live with. Categories included Young Artists Under Thirteen, Visual Arts, as well as School and Music, (see photos 1 and 2). The winners of the MASK prizes are currently being shown at the Turner Contemporary in England.This is a wonderful opportunity for young people in Kenya, often disadvantaged, to spring onto the International arts scene.
The 2016 MASK prize is currently being judged, the prize giving ceremony will be held in Nairobi in June 2016. The winners will again be exhibited in the Turner Contemporary. The website of MASK contains a quote by the UNESCO Director General, Irina Bokova,
‘Investing in Creativity Sparks Lasting Change in Society.’
This is without a doubt, the ethos of this inspirational charity.
Photo One; Young Artists under the age of 13 Catergory 1st Prize, ALLAN KIPTOO, age 4, My Elephant
Photo Two; Visual Category, 2nd Prize, CHURCHILL ONGERE, age 22, The Human Condition, Greener Pastures and the Colors of Youth