Naomi Wanjiku Gakunga’s sculpture is informed by her upbringing amongst the Kenyan Kikuyu people. Working primarily with metal and wire, her unique works are created by combining traditional techniques with contemporary processes, in a meditation upon the progression from past to present.
As a child, Gakunga saw traditional thatched roofs replaced with the galvanized sheet metal – known as mabati – that she now uses in her work. This abstract, wall-based sculpture is made using the dying, weaving and oxidisation techniques that the artist frequently employs in her practice. These processes transform the raw sheet metal, lending it kaleidoscopic colour as if left out in chemical rain. The resulting work references memory and experience, whilst reflecting upon wider issues such as the passing of time and the movement of peoples.
Gakunga studied and lectured in design at the University of Nairobi, Kenya, before continuing at the University of California, Los Angeles. She has been included in exhibitions in the USA, UK, France, Brazil and Poland. In 2013, October Gallery, London, presented her first solo exhibition. In 2017, her sculpture was exhibited at the Royal Academy of Arts’ Summer Exhibition. She lives in San Antonio, Texas.
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