On Monday December 14, 2015 in London, the third exhibition of the Mask Prize was opened at the Saatchi Gallery. The private viewing was opened by the Kenyan Education Attaché Dr Margaret Lesuuda on behalf of the Kenyan High Commission. She said, “UNESCO’s Goals for the Development of Arts Education call to assure access to quality arts education because it strengthens innovative and creative thinking of young people and therefore has a positive impact on the development of societies.”
The Mask Prize is an annual competition for young people under the age of 25 living in Kenya and the rest of Africa. The Saatchi Gallery is one of world’s leading contemporary art galleries, and the inclusion of the works by young Africans symbolises their partake in the global contemporary art discourse. Exhibition will be open to the public until January 7, 2016.
The Mask Prize challenges and celebrates the creative skills of children, teenagers and young adults from the continent. The works on show at the Saatchi Gallery presents multifarious views of the continent. Together they offer an image of the vitality and diversity of African culture as seen by its young people, collectively exploring the interwoven relationships between education and social issues, friendships, ecology, nature, cities design and technologies, reflecting on ideas that can improve their lives and the lives of their communities.
Themed, ‘The Creative Nation’, the competition has been judged by creative professionals from a number of the world’s leading art institutions and has awarded 18 prizes of Sh300,000 in total across four categories – ‘Under 13 y/o’, ‘Visual Art’, ‘Schools’ and ‘Music’. The p rize-giving ceremony took place earlier this year in Nairobi at the Michael Joseph Center in June 2015.
Selected works from the general submission on show at Saatchi Gallery will later be shown at the Creative Arts in early 2016.
Praising the outcomes of the project, director Alla Tkachuk, commented:
“It’s always such a privilege to be able to work with young children to support them in imagining their futures. The Mask Prize is a non-for-profit programme pioneered by the UK creativity education charity ‘Mask School for Creativity and Innovation’ and aims to show the energy and vision of young people in Africa.”
Dr Terry Perk from the University for the Creative Arts, whose MA Curatorial Practice students are installing the show at the Saatchi Gallery, said:
“We’re really excited to be involved in such an inspiring project. The range of work on show, from collages by four year-old nursery children through to musical performances developed by musicians in their early twenties, demonstrates the value of art as a tool for enabling us to enjoy, reflect on and create the worlds we live in.”