“Hi, I’m looking for a painting by Dullah Wise!” These were the words of a visitor to the Cultural Arts Centre last Friday. That can’t be a coincidence. He must have followed our CACZ online event. He did. “It was nice to follow.” Now he was looking for more art from Dullah Wise. Of course, he had come to the right place at the Arts Centre. We gladly forwarded him to the Hurumzi Henna Gallery, Dullah Wise’s workplace where he had the pleasure of meeting him. But what kind of event exactly did we have planned and what was it for?
The Cultural Arts Centre is not only a place where handcrafts are made and sold, but it gives artists from Zanzibar the opportunity to sell their paintings here. Again and again, these artists stop by here with their work. In general, Zanzibar has a huge art scene. But have you ever wondered what an artist’s day looks like on Zanzibar? We had. It is high time to find out. So Sustainable East Africa and the Cultural Arts Centre together decided to organise an online Instagram event about the daily life of an artist, which can be followed by every one, even from home. For 24 Hours we would give our Cultural Arts Centre Instagram account to an artist from Zanzibar. During these hours this artist is free to present his or her daily life in posts and stories. Whether it was a daily or weekly routine or a special project – our first artist was to be Dullah Wise, young, very talented and totally committed to his work, and based on the main island of Unguja.
Wednesday afternoon the 15th of November this event took action. It was artist time. At four o’clock in the afternoon, we met Dullah Wise at his studio at the top of the Hurumzi Henna Art Gallery. First thing to do: The handover of Cultural Arts Center’s Instagram account. Two of the SEA-team did just this, happy to accompany him for the next 24 hours!
As the first post, Dullah Wise decided to introduce himself and his gallery. Then we packed our stuff and followed him to the Dhow Country Music Academy (DCMA). One of his current projects was the live painting of instruments; he feels both music and arts share a therapeutic quality, so why not make a combination.
After that, we headed of to Forodhani Park at Stone Town’s sea-front. Here Dullah Wise just needed a sketchbook and a pen for a tree sketch. Again and again you may bump into Dullah Wise in Stone Town, live sketching. When not drawing trees, you can find Dullah in the alleys of Stown Town sketching its architecture and people.
At the end of the day, Dullah took us back to his gallery. There he and two other artists prepared a handmade banner for a premature birth event until the late into the night.
The morning after at 9 o’clock the 24 hours continued. We made our way to the Kidongo Chekundu Mental Hospital for an arts therapy session. Twice a week Dullah Wise spends two hours there drawing with a small group of patients. The whole group have also decorated the room in which the arts sessions take place, so that everyone feels relaxed and comfortable.
For lunch we joined Dullah Wise and two other artists cooking their food in their Gallery. In spite of the fact that there is no kitchen in the gallery, they simply prepared a great lunch only with a small gas cooker.
Our last stop was another live sketch on the far side of Stone Town. This time a figure sketch. Again it was impressive how far away Dullah stays from his motiv but still draws in every detail. Suddenly we realized that the 24 hours were already over.
We are very grateful for the opportunity we got to accompany Dullah Wise for this day – he is so creative and he made a great start for our first online Instagram event. Dullah Wise himself commented afterwards that the event had made him think about different ways to present his work. ‘I feel I’ve learned more about how to handle social media, how to address different people, how to connect the various social networks and how important the role of social media is in our current world’ he reflected.
The fact that it was an online event via Instagram made it possible to reach people worldwide and to spread Dullah Wise’s art all over the world. The fact that someone specifically went to the Cultural Arts Centre on Friday to learn more about Dullah Wise, and the number of comments and ‘likes’ CACZ received on the account, confirmed our hope that many varied people can enjoy and respond to an event such as this.
The 24 hours were an amazing insight into the life of an artist in Zanzibar – we will be running many more!