Posts Tagged ‘Rungwe Kingdom’

Rwenzori Founders, UgandaWhen a couple of my paintings headed off to Uganda with Ambassador Scott DeLisi to hang at the US Embassy in Kampala, I began to follow the news that the Ambassador would forward from that African nation.  The stories he posts portray a country that is moving forward with an optimistic attitude.  There are stories of young entrepreneurs, scholars and artists that give reason for this attitude.  A recent post spoke of  the Rwenzori Art Centre Sculpture Gallery, nestled in the foothills of the  Rwenzori Mountains, the fabled Mountains of the Moon in northern Uganda.

The rural Rwenzori Art Centre is home to Rwenzori Founders, a world -class foundry that casts bronzes,  which opened several years ago.  The whole project was supported by the UK charity, the Rwenzori Sculpture Foundation, which is the brainchild of the owner of Pangolin Editions, the largest artist foundry in Europe which was started by a Ugandan, Rungwe Kingdom.  The facility’s design has won awards for its environmental sensitivity.

As fascinating as this all is, it is the story of one of the artists there,  Peter Oloya , that really interests me.  He hails from northern Uganda, an area that has been ravaged in the past by rebel armies.  At the age of 11, Peter was abducted by the Lord’s Resistance Army and forced into action as a child soldier.  It was kill or be killed.  After a year and eight months, Peter escaped after being wounded during a battle.

Peter Oloya - HeadHe made his way to Kampala and lived on the streets, earning money by using his talent at carving curios  to pay for his school and university fees where he pursued an education in art and sculpture.  His work served him as a form of therapy to move past the horrors he had witnessed  and soon his obvious talent garnered much notice.  He has won  numerous commissions for his sculptures in recent years, such as Crane (shown at the bottom of this post) which was given to Queen Elizabeth as a gift from the Ugandan people, and his work is in great demand.  Wanting to share his good fortune, he has set up a charity to help other boy soldiers and abducted girls to heal themselves through drawing and sculpture.

It’s a great story of the redemptive and healing power of art.  It is also evidence that the urge to create will always overcome obstacles of all sorts.  Too many of us, myself included, all too often find excuses for not doing something.  I don’t have the right tools. I don’t have enough time or the time is just not right.  I am too distracted by other things.  Excuses of all sorts.  But Peter used whatever he had at hand to release what was trapped within him to make way for better things.

The next time I start whining about anything, all I have to do is think of Peter Oloya and I will shut up and be grateful for the safety and security of my own life.

Peter Oloya-Crowned Crane

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