Collection: Winds and Survivors

Interested in one or more artworks from this collection?

By: Nakitende Sheila

womanhood, installation art, performance art, barkcloth, weaving

The materials that Sheila uses informs her artistic relationship with nature. Lubago sustainably harvested bark cloth, carries spiritual and historical meaning.  In the Central Region of Uganda, the Buganda people have used backcloth since time immemorial. Sheila further transforms backcloth through a laborious process that creates an intricate paper. In this work, the artist evokes connections between the forces of nature, specific place and inner being. The works presented in the exhibition ‘She Who Spreads the Winds’ further reinforce a creative attachment to the environment. Exploring her relationship with the force of the wind, Sheila presents a very personal series of works:

I explore our interconnection with nature. Just like the winds, we are also a force of nature.
However winds are a force that can only be seen through their impact. The metaphoric interpretation of who we are as human beings. The internal or spiritual, that which we cannot see and the external or physical, which is seen.

What are we able to do, to withstand, overcome, develop, amidst these times.

The artwork is also a personal reflection and interrogation as a woman, a mother and an artist.

An Influence of mobility.
Metaphoric /Spiritual

The winds could be anything. A situation, a song, a disease, a trend, a body cell, an emotion.

We are the winds. That fan the flames

We are clouds that move the wind and bring rain.
Moving parts of our bodies (arms, legs, fins, wings)

we escape, Survive and Soar on
We make the Trees dance

And yet we are the trees

Rooted and grounded

We are the song of the mountains

That no one can see but hear

And yet we are the mountains that stand

We are the Queens that carry the load and spread the winds.

Tree Dance (2023)

When the wind blows in a forest, the trees dance. Some may fall and some may stand. Some of the leaves and seeds will fly off and grow elsewhere whereas some may fall and rot. The artwork not only speaks about trees in literal sense but speaks about humanity. Our ability to withstand internal, external influences and challenges. Our vulnerability put to test and how we are able to navigate through life’s experiences.

Song of the Mountains (2023)

When the wind blows in the desert or the mountains, it makes a sound , it can either be joyful or a sound of sorrow.

The harsh winds cause movement of dust and make a distinct sound.

 However the mountains do not move. All we can hear is the sound of the wind together with the mountain, a song.

Mother Cloud (2023)

Mother Cloud

She moves the wind and influences mobility.

She brings rain that allows for planting seeds.

She can compliment the environment that permits growth of the seeds but she can also destroy all there is through causing floods and deserts.

She’s unpredictable.

Nnabagereka (Queen)

In Buganda The Queen is known as Nnaabagereka. Her position comes with many expectations and criticism.

She carries the load of judgement, being misunderstood, unspoken challenges but still maintains her position of influence.

The Nnaabagereka could be any woman in our community that shuts her ears and closes her eyes to pitfalls.

She heals, restores and moves on.

Fanning the Flame (2023)

This artwork speaks about our position and power to cause transformation, to influence innovation and to spread this trend like a flame. It is a set of collective hands starting a fire.

Soaring on (2023)

This artwork speaks about using what you have to overcome your challenges.

The wings are what the dove or eagle has got to fly away high to a safe place.

Kawonawo (Survivors) (2023)

Kawonawo (The Survivors)

Amidst a tide in the water, many traps have been set to capture them. (The fish)

This is their home a place where they are meant to thrive.

They’re vulnerable in a no-escape situation.

They swim and dance with the tide.

They escape and survive captivity.

This artwork speaks about mental slavery.

The following poem by Julianne DiNenna was inspired by this artwork:

The Carp Gets Caught Before the Fire Is Lit 

The eagle snatches a carp

its talons stab its reddish brown

scaled filets.

Air breaks its gills.

Its gray glassy straw

eyes rotate

away from sun sparks.

Droplets swirl back

to the expanse of the lake.

Fish-hopefuls row further

from the scene

rivet their eyes up

dragging and dredging mud

in filaments smacking of smoke.

A girl screams

there is fire.

Earth worms churn in and out.

So this is what it means

to be caught in flight

to be caught in fire:

the lake unravels

hues ignite from sucked heights

trees turn their eyes

from the carnage

cast a warning scent

cry lake

we need the tears

the earth burns

the earth burns


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