“For me art is a powerful weapon that can address issues which are of political, social, and cultural importance without raising confrontation. Furthermore, art can overcome language barriers and be used to communicate issues to people who are illiterate.
As a practicing Ugandan artist I am interested in using art to address issues of public health. I developed a range of sculptures that use everyday materials in order to raise awareness and promote discussion around HIV/AIDS. Throughout the African continent more women than men are illiterate and cannot access printed information or television. Yet familiar household objects can facilitate understanding and discussion about HIV transmission, the body and sexual practices in unthreatening ways.”
Lilian Mary Nabulime will exhibit outside Kampala International University (KIU) at Gaba Rd, Kansanga, not far from the location of 32° East ¦ Ugandan Arts Trust.
Lilian Mary Nabulime is an artist, senior lecturer and former Head of the Sculpture Department at Margaret Trowell School of Industrial and Fine Arts, Makerere University. She holds a PhD from Newcastle University (2007) titled ‘The role of sculptural forms as a communication tool in relation to the lives and experiences of women with HIV/AIDS in Uganda.’
Lilian works mainly in sculpture and has received numerous awards for her artistic practice; she has recently been awarded the Commonwealth Fellowship Award (January to July 2012).
Lilian’s work has been widely exhibited in solo and group shows in many cities and countries outside Uganda, including USA (2001 and 2011), Rome (2009), London (2007 and 2009), Denmark (2007), Norway (2004 and 2006), Newcastle (2004, 2005), Sweden (2001) and Nairobi (1994 and 1995). Furthermore, Nabulime participated in the second Pan African Cultural Festival in Algiers (2009) and in the first of the two editions of the Johannesburg Biennale (1995). In her native Uganda Lilian has been part of many group and solo exhibitions including and most recently Makerere Gallery (2011 and 2009), Alliance Française (2011) and AfriArt Gallery (2011).
Bypassing Literacy: Sculptural Forms as a Communication Tool in the Fight against HIV/AIDS
Throughout her PhD research and recent artistic practice, Lilian creates sculptures from everyday materials in order to raise awareness and promote discussion about sexual practices in the context of decreasing the rate of HIV/AIDS. Mainly reaching out to women, she focuses on sculptures that evolve from familiar household objects in order to facilitate understanding and discussion around HIV transmission, the body, and sexual practices in unthreatening ways. “Through my PhD research I was able to prove that art is a powerful weapon in addressing taboo issues in society without raising confrontation.
I believe at the same time that art can be used to communicate issues to people who are less educated and to overcome language barriers.”
Lilian’s sculptures aim to tackle issues of public health and push the meaning of art beyond the visual into the social. Despite carrying a conceptual and educational emphasis, the very fact that they are evolved from familiar household objects suggests that everyone can relate to the artwork.
“I feel sculptures that use everyday materials are constant reminders to raise awareness and make people reflect on their lives and promote discussion around HIV/AIDS. This can lead to a decrease in HIV/AIDS infections, encourage testing, counselling and treatment, as well as avoid denial and stigma and reach out to those infected and affected by the virus.”
Among the sculptures Lilian is exhibiting at KLA ART 012 are soaps, baskets, and mirrors as well as pestles and mortars. Parallel to their function as household objects they carry metaphorical and symbolical meaning; Lilian modifies the objects to represent different ways of HIV/AIDS prevention and handling of the infection.
To encourage public participation, Lilian invites the viewer to talk about the sculptures and handle them in order to break down the barriers responsible for the increase in the spread of the disease.