Former UK-based, Kenyan-born artist Darshana Raja has been nominated for the prestigious 2020 Loewe Craft Prize in Paris, France.
Raja, who grew up in the United Kingdom but returned to Kenya three years ago, is among the 30 finalists picked from a list of 2,920 submissions. She is the only finalist from the African continent.
Her two-meter circular artwork dubbed the ‘Whole hole’ is set to be showcased at the Musee Des Arts Decoratif within the Palais Louvre in France for eight weeks this year.
The University of Brighton graduate studied an art course covering metalwork, woodwork, ceramics, plastics.
“It is all about learning new skills daily. My work is idea-based. I sit down, get an idea and get materials that suit the idea to bring it to life,” Ms. Raja told Daily Nation.
She says most of her pieces are made from waste wood collected from local furniture makers.
“For the time I have been in Kenya I have noticed how resourceful and economical people are; what one person may see as waste, someone finds it useful and will recycle it to whatever they want. This is in contrast with what I have seen in the West, having been brought up in England. This is a very different kind of culture,” she said.
She disclosed that ‘Whole hole’ was built using Mvuli wood offcuts and took her two months to complete.
“I made this formal structure, which is almost like a perfect circle but from very different pieces of wood. I am not good at math, but I figured it out and ensured that the spaces between each wooden component are made from old rubber insulation tubing, simply, salvaging rubbish,” she explained.
She also melts glass bottles to make chandeliers, which she uses to craft pieces of her desire.
The winner of the Loewe Craft Prize will be named on May 19th and will pocket 50,000 Euros (Sh6 million).