Tag: Margaret Trowell

Fig. 1 Margaret Trowell, Mother and Child (1940s). Lino print, unknown measurements. Reproduced from Kakande Angelo’s PhD 2008

Re-reading the Warps and Wefts in Trowell’s Mother and Child Print: Debates and Contests

Margaret Trowell has been called the ‘mother of contemporary art in Uganda and a feminist’ (Tumusiime 2012). This is because in the mid-1930s she introduced the teaching of contemporary art at Makerere University and wrote widely on issues concerning family, women and children. On the other hand, she also created art though only few of her artworks are in Uganda. However, on my part I am interested in a lino print, entitled Mother and Child (1940s), whose visual archive I have accessed through George Kyeyune (2003) and Angelo Kakande (2008). The print captures a dominant sitting mother-figure wrapped in white cloth and nursing a child. Trowell’s print seems to suggest the earliest expressions of her self-activism to emancipate mothers and children through modern art. I re-read Trowell’s Mother and Child and its multiplicity of meanings. I re-engage it to retrace the threads of the colonial hegemony that wove together Trowell’s instruction of modern art in Uganda. This debate is essential. It sets the gendered pedestal on which contemporary art in Uganda was born and became interlaced with – to use Trowell’s words – ‘warps and wefts’ (Trowell 1957) This paper, therefore, marks our entry into the gendered discourses that have continued to shape Uganda’s modern art to the present.

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Beyond Tradition & Modernity: Contemporary Art in Uganda

From the start, Uganda’s contemporary visual arts were defined by the absence of their own ‘authentic’ tradition. Throughout the early twentieth century, Makerere University’s European directors sought either to stimulate a latent African-ness of their own imagining in the students, or to push them into the future via an exposure to foreign experiments in representation

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Fred Mutebi: Art – Bargaining for woman

“The series in this collection are meant to inspire Ugandans and well-wishers to think about giving a woman the opportunity to attend to Uganda’s problems for at least five years come 2016 in order for Uganda to recuperate as well as inspire the upcoming artists to have a new approach to depicting women in their artwork so that we give the women the kind of dignity they most deserve.” Visual artist Fred Mutebi writes for startjournal.

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