Yony Waite Exhibition
One Off is pleased to present
An exhibition of works
by Yony Waite
Private View: Saturday, 28 November 2015
Exhibition Run: 28 November to 19 January 2016
Goddess in the Details
Stitches, Sequins, Beads and Paint
by Yony Waite
Sometime in the 1970s, I was painting in my studio in the middle of Game Ranching Ltd, when I heard a timid knock on the door. A local woman had walked several kilometers through the bush to ask me if I had any work for her.
I could hardly say no to such an effort on her part although I actually had nothing I could immediately ask her to do.
She told me that she could “do a bit of sewing” so I gave her a gunea I had been painting cows on and asked her to stitch around the outside.
When she returned the piece a few days later, the effect was so striking that I gave her more painted fabric to embellish. So what came to be known as “Mkonokono” – a made up word conveying really hand made—was born.
More and more women came to learn that there was casual work to be had with me and it was especially appreciated that the pieces to sew upon could be carried home and worked on in their spare time even sitting on the ground with babies and older children tumbling around on top of the guneas.
Then my sister in law, Linda Benvenuto, arrived and together we designed and organized a group of women on Game Ranching followed by a group of women in Athi River. We would go to the market in Athi once a week to pay everybody, decide on new directions or materials for each piece and at one point we had up to forty pairs of hands on our Mkonokono wall hangings.
After enough good pieces were finished we exhibited them in a splendid show at Gallery Watatu. To our great surprise and joy, almost all the pieces were sold the first night.
Some of the pieces we did afterwards were to be exhibited in the window of African Heritage which was then on Kenyatta Avenue. But as Linda delivered the hangings, they were scooped up by the clients in the store at the time!
When Linda moved away to Washington DC, the project carried on mostly in Lamu but on a much smaller scale.
In 1992, for the International Biodiversity Conference in Rio de Janeiro, I was given a grant by the Rockefeller Foundation to design and coordinate a series of hand-stitched panels to be connected together in a long banner called “The Lamu Story Snake.”
Approximately 100 people, mostly women, took part in creating the panels with the original designer work being finished by other various members of the group, including me. They were going to draw “what they would miss most if it was gone forever.” These were amplified, then embroidered, beaded, sequined and sometimes patched then sewn with a backing of black satin such as the buibuis that are ubiquitous in Lamu, covering the often ornate clothing underneath. All the pieces were then sewn onto a long length of silver satin with the words Lamu story snake sewn in sequins in English and Portugese along the bottom and the banner was carried on poles borne by the school children and had several outings in the streets of Rio along the Copacabana Beach.
It also had showings in Japan, England, Canada and the US before going into hibernation for several years.
Some of the panels were made into waistcoats and some into individual very mixed medial panels which are on display today.
Business Daily - 13-12-2015 - Yony’s Story Snake is still relevant today
Preview of Works
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Lamu Story Snake
Multi media on fabric collaborative works by Yony and the Womens' group of Wildebeest Workshop in Lamu. Made from 1992 for the biodiversity Conference in Brazil. Each work is approximatey 95 x 72 cm
Exhibition openings are usually on the last Saturday of every month, excluding December. The gallery remains open on Sundays allowing anyone who missed the opening to catch the exhibition the next day. Do join our mailing list so we can add you to our invitation list.