Nadia is an artist at Nairobi’s Go-Down Arts Centre, a former warehouse that now houses and promotes artists and creativity from across the city. She has two favourite mediums, charcoal for portraits and acrylics for more abstract work. She paints in vivid tones; purple, blue, orange and yellow. Nadia’s studio at the Go-Down has offered her both a space to work and a revenue stream, visitors to the arts centre provide a steady volume of customers. It is remarkable that a young woman is making a living out of arts in the tough town that is Nairobi, but Nadia has had to face more challenges than most. Though she could hear at birth at some point during her childhood her ears started to bleed and she was diagnosed as developing “profound deafness”. Nadia also has restricted sight.
It was Nadia’s disabilities that drew her to art in the first place, she has been “painting casually” since the age of three. According to the artist “it was my way of withdrawing since most children could not understand me”. Nadia cites her dad as her inspiration, he encouraged her to work with her hands and it was he that took her to the Go Down for art lessons. He introduced Nadia and her sister to Patrick Mukabi, a renowned artist at the Go Down. Nadia remembers being struck by the impact of Mukabi’s “bold paintings” as they walked around his studio. Her father saw how moved his daughter was and immediately suggested that Patrick should mentor her, she has been one of his students ever since.
Nadia’s work has enabled her financial independence and she is achieving recognition in the city. Already her work has been shown at Alliance Francise, Panafric Hotel, University of Nairobi, Kuona Trust, Dari Hotel and the Sarit Centre. Her most recent work was displayed at the Manjano Art Exhibition in the Village Market. Now having made a mark on Nairobi Nadia’s ambitions have grown “I want to be an global artist she says”.