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Upcycled art has big appeal for Kenyans who think ‘out of the box’

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Evans Ngure's Bird
Evans Ngure’s Bird. PHOTO | MARGARETTA WA GACHERU | NMG 

Upcycling is different from recycling. Both processes involve the use of garbage, or put more politely, ‘discarded objects’. But recycled junk tends to remains just junk only that it’s sorted and then sent somewhere to either be disposed of safely or used to make something else.

That’s not so very different from upcycling except that the upcycled junk is specifically used to create something of higher quality or value than the original material.

Today there are many Kenyan artists who are busy upcycling. Some are doing so because the junk is far more affordable than conventional art materials like canvas, acrylic, oil or spray paints. For others it’s the environmental appeal and the pride of knowing they are creating value out of what someone else has seen as valueless.

Then there are artists like Evans Ngure, one of the six artists whose ‘upcycled’ art is on display at the Polka Dot Gallery for the next few days. Evans used to be a painter until one of his lecturers in Kenyatta University’s art department encouraged him to explore the artistic potential in more unconventional art materials.

“Her advice helped me open my thinking to begin experimenting with all sorts of things,” he says referring to Anne Mwiti who taught him in his third year at KU. Her advice led to a major change in Evans’ art practice such that now, he rarely if ever picks up a paint brush. He’s more inclined to work with plyers on all kinds of found objects.

Evans Ngure's Bull II

Evans Ngure’s Bull II. PHOTO | MARGARETTA WA GACHERU | NMG

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From the look of the six sculptures that he’s got in Polka Dot’s current show entitled ‘Un-found’, Evans found and reassembled (or upcycled) everything from parts of old cars, bicycles, TVs and telephones to an old hacksaw, crash helmet, scissors and piping from a junked motorcycle. He’s also got plenty of screws, nuts and bolts keeping his artworks intact.

The point is, Evans creates art from junk for the pure joy of it. The works themselves testify to the fun he’s been having in transforming, for instance, a hacksaw into a friendly ‘bull’ or a hollowed out TV box into a 3D frame (or is it a cage) wherein one of his scissor-birds resides.

But Evans isn’t the only artist in the show to display quite a bit of wit, ingenuity and resourceful in the way he or she creates their upcycled art. Leena Shah for one has used old glossy fashion magazines to create collage art that sparkles as she’s designed her own surreal notion of fashion, suggesting she’s got many more upcycled collages to make, since the medium clearly suits her.

Lionel R Garang uses old gunny sacks in place of canvas for his series of automobile paintings. Richard Njogu is also a painter only he works with ‘found’ vinyl ‘45’ records to create portraits of beautiful women, prominent musicians and ‘celebs’ like the late Bob Marley, Loren Hill and others.

Wallace Juma and Rogan Anjuli are also painters, although they too are very different. Wallace paints actual junk heaps, but he does so in such a way that his junk is meticulously detailed, distinctively coloured, branded and strewn beneath pastel skies that look almost heavenly.

In contrast, Rogan substitutes canvas for leather which he too has found, but then beautified with portraits of people that have been embossed into the leather to ensure a sense of permanence.

‘Un-founded’ is Polka Dot’s first upcycled art exhibition, but it should not be the last since there are countless more young Kenyans who’ve discovered they need not buy expensive art materials to express themselves in fresh and innovative ways. Most would love to be in Polka Dot’s next ‘un-found’ show

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World Bank pushes G-20 to extend debt relief to 2021

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World Bank Group President David Malpass has urged the Group of 20 rich countries to extend the time frame of the Debt Service Suspension Initiative(DSSI) through the end of 2021, calling it one of the key factors in strengthening global recovery.

“I urge you to extend the time frame of the DSSI through the end of 2021 and commit to giving the initiative as broad a scope as possible,” said Malpass.

He made these remarks at last week’s virtual G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors Meeting.

The World Bank Chief said the COVID-19 pandemic has triggered the deepest global recession in decades and what may turn out to be one of the most unequal in terms of impact.

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People in developing countries are particularly hard hit by capital outflows, declines in remittances, the collapse of informal labor markets, and social safety nets that are much less robust than in the advanced economies.

For the poorest countries, poverty is rising rapidly, median incomes are falling and growth is deeply negative.

Debt burdens, already unsustainable for many countries, are rising to crisis levels.

“The situation in developing countries is increasingly desperate. Time is short. We need to take action quickly on debt suspension, debt reduction, debt resolution mechanisms and debt transparency,” said Malpass.

ALSO READ:Global Economy Plunges into Worst Recession – World Bank

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Kenya’s Central Bank Drafts New Laws to Regulate Non-Bank Digital Loans

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The Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) will regulate interest rates charged on mobile loans by digital lending platforms if amendments on the Central bank of Kenya Act pass to law. The amendments will require digital lenders to seek approval from CBK before launching new products or changing interest rates on loans among other charges, just like commercial banks.

“The principal objective of this bill is to amend the Central bank of Kenya Act to regulate the conduct of providers of digital financial products and services,” reads a notice on the bill. “CBK will have an obligation of ensuring that there is fair and non-discriminatory marketplace access to credit.”

According to Business Daily, the legislation will also enable the Central Bank to monitor non-performing loans, capping the limit at not twice the amount of the defaulted loan while protecting consumers from predatory lending by digital loan platforms.

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Tighter Reins on Platforms for Mobile Loans

The legislation will boost efforts to protect customers, building upon a previous gazette notice that blocked lenders from blacklisting non-performing loans below Ksh 1000. The CBK also withdrew submissions of unregulated mobile loan platforms into Credit Reference Bureau. The withdrawal came after complaints of misuse over data in the Credit Information Sharing (CIS) System available for lenders.

Last year, Kenya had over 49 platforms providing mobile loans, taking advantage of regulation gaps to charge obscene rates as high as 150% a year. While most platforms allow borrowers to prepay within a month, creditors still pay the full amount plus interest.

Amendments in the CBK Act will help shield consumers from high-interest rates as well as offer transparency on terms of digital loans.

SEE ALSO: Central Bank Unveils Measures to Tame Unregulated Digital Lenders

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Scope Markets Kenya customers to have instant access to global financial markets

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NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 20 – Clients trading through the Scope Markets Kenya trading platform will get instant access to global financial markets and wider investment options. 

This follows the launch of a new Scope Markets app, available on both the Google PlayStore and IOS Apple Store.

The Scope Markets app offers clients over 500 investment opportunities across global financial markets.

The Scope Markets app has a brand new user interface that is very user friendly, following feedback from customers.

The application offers real-time quotes; newsfeeds; research facilities, and a chat feature which enables a customer to make direct contact with the Customer Service Team during trading days (Monday to Friday).

The platform also offers an enhanced client interface including catering for those who trade at night.

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The client will get instant access to several asset classes in the global financial markets including; Single Stocks CFDs (US, UK, EU) such as Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix and Google, BP, Carrefour;  Indices (Nasdaq, FTSE UK), Metals (Gold, Silver); Currencies (60+ Pairs), Commodities (Oil, Natural Gas).

The launch is part of Scope Markets Kenya strategy of enriching the customer experience while offering clients access to global trading opportunities.

Scope Markets Kenya CEO, Kevin Ng’ang’a observed, “the Sope Markets app is very easy to use especially when executing trades. Customers are at the heart of everything we do. We designed the Scope Markets app with the customer experience in mind as we seek to respond to feedback from our customers.”

He added that enhancing the client experience builds upon the robust trading platform, Meta Trader 5, unveiled in 2019, enabling Scope Markets Kenya to broaden the asset classes available on the trading platform.

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