Art from Lewa community on exhibition in London 

Pie Herring

To Have Three Daughters (2021), Oil on Canvas, 160x135cm

Photo credit: Courtesy | Pie Herring

What you need to know:

  • The London exhibition is not the first one where Herring showcased the work from Kenya.
  • Herring’s oil portraits have been exhibited in a number of exhibitions.

Kenyan art will be on exhibition in London for two weeks, courtesy of oil portraitist Pie Herring, who will be debuting her solo exhibition.

The exhibition which will run through January 7, 2022, features two series, including ‘Fortitude,’ which she created while working at Lewa Wildlife conservation park between December 2020 and April 2021.

The idea for an exhibition started after NextGen committee member Charlie V. Rose and oil portraitist Herring approached Lewa Wildlife Conservancy and NextGen chair, Laura Day Webb with a proposal to visit the communities surrounding Lewa, document and give a platform to those directly affected by the drop in tourism due to the pandemic.

The Lewa Wildlife Conservancy, a private and non - profit organization and home to different wildlife, including endangered species, leans on the financial support of its surrounding community and the tourism to keep up with its day-to-day functions and operations.

However, last year during the Coronavirus pandemic, the tourism sector was severely affected when countries worldwide shut their borders.

Tourism being a source of revenue for Lewa, the Conservancy was severely affected by the pandemic. These artists captured the stories and faces of individuals living and working around Lewa Wildlife Conservancy.

Pie Herring

Lonyuku, Oil on Canvas, 150x114cm

Photo credit: Courtesy | Pie Herring

Together with other contemporary British and Kenyan artists, Herring worked with the community living and working around Lewa in a project called Lewa Next Gen The Art of Resilience.

“I was lucky enough to meet and spend time with members of the local communities. They shared their stories with me about struggles, defiance, inherent generosity, love, and resilience in the face of a global pandemic. These are the people you will see on the walls at Fortitude," Herring told Nation.Africa.

The project was to foster a dialogue around key local issues, including access to education and healthcare, expansion of microfinance programs for women, sustainable livelihoods, and a new audience to discover the merits of community-based conservation and its tourism relationship.

Others who worked on the project included Anyango Mpinga, Charlie V. Rose, Dennis Muraguri, Elias Mung’ora, Joel Kioko, Migwa Nthiga, and Paul Onditi, whose work ranged from oil on canvas to prints, mixed media, photography, videography, textiles, and dance.

Speaking to Nation.Africa Herring said the experience at Lewa was humbling and eye-opening.

“This project is significant to me, not only because of the respect that I have for those we were privileged enough to meet and learn their stories but also because Lewa does incredible work to support them and the land. They provide access to water, education, medical care, and more. It was a truly humbling and eye-opening experience for me, and I hope my paintings can do their hard work justice,” she said.

Pie Herring

Francis (2021), Oil on Canvas, 121x116cm

Photo credit: Courtesy | Pie Herring

Herring further revealed that the proceeds from the exhibition will be shared with the community around the Conservancy.

“I had the most magical experience on Lewa and all I can hope for now is to find these paintings homes and with the proceeds generated benefit those who enabled them to come to life” she added.

She is also planning to have the exhibition in Kenya next year.

The London exhibition is not the first one where Herring showcased the work from Kenya; in September, she did a joint show at the High Line Nine in partnership with Montague Contemporary. 

All the work by the nine contemporary Kenyan and British artists were showcased.

Herring’s oil portraits have been exhibited in a number of exhibitions, with notable highlights including the ‘Young London Painters’ group show in November 2018 and the Royal Scottish Academy’s New Contemporaries Exhibition 2019, where she was awarded the Carnegie Scholarship.