Creativity and innovation are vital to both economic growth and cultural progress. A country such as Rwanda, which has made such strides in the last 20 years and is looking forward to a bright future, knows this well. It is talent, and the ideas and inspiration of a nations citizens that help lift it on to higher levels of shared experience and solve its problems. Rwanda is a fertile country in many ways, and its creativity will help to further cross cultural and international conversations. The Charlie Dutton Gallery
hosts this, the first occasion that Rwandan art has been shown in the United Kingdom.
In the context of the pressures that Rwanda has faced the formal teaching of visual art has taken a back seat, and so it is the more extraordinary that artists are working and practising to produce art that challenges their understood conventions, and represents their own expression and that of their countrymen. Not only is art rarely taught in schools, there is also no graduate visual art school. Fortunate artists are able to study in Uganda or elsewhere, but the majority of those practising in Rwanda and who have created the work that is shown in this exhibition, are self- taught, sharing knowledge and experimentation amongst each other.
The eight artists in Rwanda are all currently resident in Rwanda and are of Rwandan descent. Some of them were in exile and returned to Rwanda after the genocide and others have been living in Rwanda all their lives. Some of their experiences are extraordinary. They form part of an artists studio based in Kigali called Ivuka Arts. This studio has been self- organised and funded by the artists and provides a space for them to work, and share their understandings, as well as a structure from which many of the artists engage with teaching local children and other community members, and outreach projects to improve Rwandans exposure to and appreciation of the arts, and ultimately support respect and understanding between individuals.
The aim of the exhibition is to expose the work of Rwandan artists and to show that valuable work is being produced there. Artwork can empower Rwandans to cross their own frontiers into an international dialogue and cultural exchange, while inviting others to understand the broader landscape of the newest member of the Commonwealth. We hope to help the artists further develop their skills and expressiveness and that this exhibition will lead to future shows on the international stage as well as educational and other opportunities for them.