Luba Roshchyna, Curator of ALL THINGS EMERSON ZANZIBAR
There are so many interesting artists on the island and they all learn from each other – yet hardly ever collaborate. It was well worth looking into the idea of showcasing them all together.”
LUBA : “Well, when COVID lockdowns happened and everything went quiet, there suddenly was a lot of time and space to really see things around you. Obviously, artists didn’t have much to work on or to hustle for, so there was an opportunity to make friends with them and have a look at what they were actually creating.
I noticed there were some artists that you just don’t easily see around – they’re like a mystery or hidden treasure – and their art was quite different from what is usually seen in the street shops.
These discoveries made me think about why there is such a lack of knowledge about good artists of Zanzibar that could really uplift and change the art scene of the island. These artists are quietly working somewhere, some even have quite a few awards or recognitions on international level and yet most of them barely make ends meet… why?”
LUBA : “A lot of opportunities went missing in some artists’ lives, probably because they didn’t know how to follow through or follow up with them.
Another common thing that happens is that artists spread their artworks around overcrowded little shops here and there and eventually good pieces just get hidden away in a corner, covered in dust. And with so much piled up and forgotten only an ‘art hunter’ would bother to go through piles of average dusty stuff to uncover a jewel.
As someone who has an extensive experience in luxury business management and as an artist too, I know these issues quite well and can see how to better develop, promote and generate better sales. I saw the mistakes that were being made and wanted to share my experience.”
It’s the first time in the history of Zanzibar so many artists present as a collective exhibition with a single theme under one roof.”
LUBA : “I’ve always had a fascination with the two Emerson hotels, especially Emerson on Hurumzi, and I’ve always liked what the Emerson’s Zanzibar Foundation was doing and how they were promoting arts – especially young and upcoming artists.
But when I attended a few exhibitions, from my point of view as an artist, I saw that more could be done and improved. Things that would help the artists move their artworks and attract people and contacts who will invest in their art. Basically, to help artists get out there and to get themselves known in a beneficial for them way.
There were a few things to tweak and new things to introduce. And because I’m friendly with the hotel, I agreed to give a hand in organising exhibitions, while the lockdown was still in place. It became a beautiful game, which also started to show where the weak and strong points were – and how to continue forward. The artist community here is very specific : they have their own issues and it’s necessary to understand and work with this
Since there are so many interesting artists on the island and they all learn from each other yet hardly ever collaborate it was well worth looking into the idea of showcasing them all together.”