WESM Arts Fest returns after 7 year hiatus

After a 7-year hiatus, the Wildlife and Environmental Society of Malawi (WESM) Arts Fest has returned by popular demand.

WESM Arts Fest
WESM Arts Fest

The 2019 WESM Arts Fest took place from Friday 21 June to Sunday 23 June at the Four Seasons Nursery on Presidential Way in Lilongwe.

Speaking on the sidelines of the festival, WESM Arts Festival producer Pádraic MacOireachtaigh said the festival had been dormant because some organizers had left the country.

He further promised plans to make WESM Arts Fest an annual event again.

Commenting on the 2019 festival, MacOireachtaigh said the festival showcased the incredible and diverse artistic talent in Malawi.

“For many years, WESM presented a visual arts exhibition, connecting artists to buyers and  showcasing the finest of Malawi’s artistic talent.

“WESM has been dedicated to protecting Malawi’s remarkable diversity of animals and habitats for nearly 70 years,” he explained.

He then revealed that the 2019 edition was held under the theme “Green”.

“Artists were encouraged to interpret the ‘Green’ theme as imaginatively as they like – either in colour or in concept,” MacOireachtaigh said.

He added: “Those works connected to the theme were featured in the silent auction on the Friday evening, but other pieces were also on sale throughout the festival.

“We hope to connect artists to buyers, and provide a platform for emerging talent. We provided an opportunity for artists to sell their work, for people to  discover new voices, and for artists to connect with each other.”

By inviting diplomats and government buyers, MacOireachtaigh continued, the WESM Arts Fest hope to take Malawian art onto the global stage as well as bringing more art into local public spaces and people’s living rooms.

“The festival also provided a space for discussion about the role of art in society, and about issues of conservation and ecology in our Malawian context,” he said.

Concurring with  MacOireachtaigh, painting artist Nyangu Chodola described the festival’s return as a welcome and positive development.

“It is always tough finding markets for up and coming young artists. It requires experience. Therefore, Arts festivals provide a platform for artists to expose their talents and find markets. For example, we have had 78 clients for this festival and on Friday alone,” said Chodola who has a 20 year experience in wildlife and landscape artistry.

Apart from exhibiting at Abantu Emperium at Gateway Mall, La Galaria at Old Town Mall and La Caravena in Blantyre, Chodola has a studio and gallery along Lilongwe – Salima road.

Featuring 400 pieces by 40 of Malawi and the region’s finest artists, the festival also featured live performances from George Kalukusha, Kim of Diamonds, Sesory, Danny Kalima, Rebecca  Mwalwenje, VJ Ice, and Alex Chiwaya.

During the day on Saturday, pottery, painting, batik  workshops were open to all.

The festival was supported by Farmers World, House of Basse’iah, Ufulu Gardens, SunnyMoney, and Pa Khonde.

In his remarks, Farmers World Marketing Manager David Lecluse said: “Farmers World is proactive when it comes to corporate social responsibility and an important  part of our business is giving back to the communities we trade in, whether it be through our

Tchove Tchove Race or most recently this partnership with WESM.”

Lecluse added: “Sustainability of conservation efforts and growth of the arts culture is undoubtedly an important part of development in Malawi, which is why Farmers World is proud to be supporting the WESM Arts Fest.”

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