Kenyan Artistes To Compete For Kshs. 1.2 Million At The Pan-African Barclays L’atelier Art Competition

(from left): Kuona Trust Director Sylviah Gichia, Barclays Bank of Kenya Managing Director, Dr. Jeremy Awori and L’Atelier art competition qualifier, Jackie Katuri pose for a photo at the pan-African Barclays Africa L’Atelier Art Competition Regional Exhibition, held at the National Museums of Kenya

In a bid to promote arts and culture in the continent, Barclays, in partnership with Kuona Trust, has selected six budding artists to represent Kenya at the pan-African Barclays Africa L’Atelier Art Competition 2015 which will take place on 15 July in South Africa.

Wambui Kamiru, Jackie Karuti, Maral Bolouri, Brian Omolo, Cyrus Kabiru and Kevin Irungu will be competing with 102 other artists from South Africa, Botswana, Ghana and Zambia for cash prizes and fellowship opportunities in France, Germany and South Africa. The 108 were selected from a pool of 773 entries.

Speaking during the official launch of the Barclays L’Atelier Art Exhibition at the National Museums, Raj Shah, Barclays Head of Investment Banking in East Africa who is spearheading the exhibition, said that Barclays supports the development of the visual arts as a means of economic empowerment, particularly for the youth segment. The Exhibition will run from 1-6 April.

“This is the first time that Kenyan artists are participating in the Barclays L’Atelier art competition and we hope the success that South African artists have gleaned from this competition will translate to our own artists and contribute to the further growth of the industry in Kenya,” he stated.

“During the selection process, we saw a collection of art pieces that was as diverse as it was dynamic, representing the maturity of the local art industry. In fact, these art pieces are the focus of the Barclays L’Atelier art exhibition,” Shah added.

The competition gives the overall winner a six months sabbatical at the Cité Internationale des Arts in Paris, France, as well as a Kshs. 1.2 million cash prize courtesy of Barclays. Upon their return they will have an exclusive solo exhibition at the Absa Gallery where they will showcase their growth and learnings from their international sabbatical. The Absa gallery has the second largest art collections in the world valued at more than Kshs. 9 billion.

In addition, there are merit awards the first of which will afford the winner a two month residency on Sylt, the northernmost of Germany’s islands. Kunstraum Sylt provides residencies to mid-career artists. The other merit award is a three month residency with the Bag Factory in Johannesburg. Here the artist will also have the opportunity in interact with many of the Galleries in Johannesburg. This award has been specifically tailored and only non-South Africans are eligible for this prize.

All prizes include airfares, giving young artists the opportunity to develop their talents and gain exposure to the international art community. Besides these, the top 10 finalists will attend a 2-day art professionalism course that will assist them in better managing their careers. Lastly, each of the top 10 will also be paired with a mentor who will work with them for a year who will give them guidance and support for their personal and artistic growth.

“The Barclays L’Atelier art competition has had a significant impact on the lives of many South African artists and Barclays Africa is privileged to be able to continue this tradition and extend it to young and emerging artists from other African countries,” says Dr. Paul Bayliss, Absa Art and Museum Curator.

He added: “We believe that the artists who experience these residencies will gain invaluable knowledge and experience from the international exposure they will get which will, ultimately, benefit them and the visual arts in their home countries.”

The 2015 L’Atelier Art Competition finalists will be announced at a glittering Gala evening on 15 July at the Absa Art Gallery in Johannesburg. The L’Atelier Art competition is run in conjunction with the South African National Association for the Visual Arts (SANAVA), which sponsors the Cité Internationale des Arts in Paris residencies.

To find out more about this year’s competition and the prizes, please visit

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