When I first heard about an ArtFest happening in the wild, I immediately imagined a gallery of various art pieces interspersed among trees. I thought it would be a day of following nature trails that would lead to artistic masterpieces. I was wrong.

The 4th edition of Artfest – Art in the Wild, was nothing like that. Instead of my imagined forest trails, a parking space converted to an exhibition space was what greeted my arrival. Here, on the brick road, artists and eateries competed for the customers’ attention at the Kenya Wildlife Service Headquarters in Langata.

Exhibitors showcase their art at the 2018 Artfest held at the Kenya Wildlife Service Headquarters in Nairobi.

Heralded as a celebration of art, the event combines music, visual arts, fashion, crafts, photography, literature, digital arts and performing arts with the aim of promoting creativity and awareness of biodiversity and the conservation of endangered species.  This year’s edition rode on the theme of ‘Connecting Arts & Cultures’.

Having overcome the initial disappointment, and now wearing a positive attitude, I proceeded on a tour of the arts. My first stop was at the booth belonging to the ESCAPE Foundation. Now known as the SideKick Foundation, the family-founded foundation works towards supporting the combating of the illegal killing of elephants.

They have just finished an interesting piece of research on the attitude of young Kenyans to conservation in which they found that conservation stakeholders and the young people themselves did not know how the youth plugin into conservation.

My next stop was the Versatile Photographers booth. These guys are positioning photography as an art and medium for conservation. Their main focus is on people, places, commercials and events.

Nairobi, The City Under the Sun at the Artfest 2018

Two particular projects they are running caught my attention. Versatile Adventures, which aims to build awareness of the fast depletion of wildlife, culture, tourism and conservation through photography and the Worth More Alive exhibition, a photo art gallery from different photo artists comprising a collection of images ranging from wildlife and culture to humanitarian projects.

The exhibition runs daily from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM at the company’s studios on the 9th floor of Hazina Towers and the 2nd floor of the Village Market. The finished images can be purchased in wooden mounts, frames and canvas print.

The cool part is that the proceeds from the sale go to fund causes including scholarships at the Versatile School of Photography.

As day 1 of the Artfest drew to a conclusion, I managed to catch up with a rather pricey group of Maasai Morans who entertain whoever is smitten by the ancient Maasai jumping dance for a fee.

A Taste of the Culture at the ArtFest

They inform me they charge somewhere from KES 3,000 to KES 5,000 per performance! What an expensive culture.

Despite its low-key performance on this day, the event qualified as a reasonably good family fun day with a bouncing castle for kids, a number of food options and an opportunity to get a glimpse of the wild with all the monkeys running amok around, trying to snatch delicacies from the food vendors who had no intention of serving anything for free. See you next year for the 5th Artfest.