Saturday, November 25, 2006

Lilian Nabulime | Sculptor | Uganda

Lilian Nabulime
Artists Statement:

I want women to be emancipated through Art. A lot of women are illiterate. When you just talk or give them literature they won`t understand. Through Art, women can be educated. If more women artists come up and produce Art with strong messages to liberate, educate both women and men, the struggle will be faster. Through Art, one can effectively communicate social/political messages across a diversity of tribes with languages and cultural bases. Art can transcend the temporal limits of languages and speech, and that`s the challenge I would like to portray in my sculptures. Lilian Nabulime

Lilian Nabulime is one of the few female sculptors in Uganda. Born in Kampala in 1963 she graduated as Master of Fine Arts from Makerere University. Although young, Nabulime has indeed found her strengths.
She currently works on a combination of wood and sheet metal, producing monumental sculptures. Carving tree stumps has become her trademark. She selects the trunk searching for a motif from the stump. This she eventually teases out with her hammer and chisel, often making elongated, elegant sculptures, mainly women heads. Also characteristic for her sculptures is a dynamic, organic rhythm that follows the grain and growth pattern of the tree and often produces a sensation of spiral movement. She has a respect for the integrity of the trees natural form she carves. Her approach to sculpture is basically African in its intuitiveness.

Statement by Lilian in September 2001

I have enjoyed my life as an Artist mainly as a Sculptor carving wood. It had never crossed my mind that I would be a sculptor. When I embarked on my Master`s Degree, I was advised to offer sculpture because I had performed well at undergraduate level. I always knew I would proceed with painting, but today sculpture is my best form of expression. Once in a while I paint, do applique using various materials like barkcloth, textiles, jute, sisal and others.

During my masters program I worked on tree roots. It was a great experience. Prior to this roots were not valued, they were used for firewood or left to rot.

As I worked on them I discovered that they offered unique forms which had to be studied in order to derive artistic inspirations. Each root was unique because it grows under the ground where it found different obstacles which they fought and struggled with, ending up in different forms. Roots were very expressive, grotesque forms which infused me with strong emotions. With roots I often chose to distort and exaggerate the forms in order to express a particular message.

The experience with root sculptures enabled me to work on different forms of wood and use of various materials I came across. I enjoy incorporating metal on wood. I also work in other materials like clay, plaster of Paris and metal casting. My inspirations for sculptures are derived from nature, experiences, and people I meet.

Usually when I work, I have ideas in sketches and models. As I start carving wood, various ideas, messages creep into my mind and that calls for more sketches and more models leading to more sculptures. And this calls for time and space which I yearn for!


Women beyond Borders,
USA/other countries 1995
Africus, Johannesburg Biennale,
South Africa 1995
Uganda, the blossoming pearl of Africa art exhibition,
Brussels, 1997
May Fest. Women Exhibition,
Glasgow, UK 1997
Global Reflection,
United Nations Art Gallery, Bonn, Germany 1998
Progress of the World`s Women,
UN Conference, New York 2000
Global Women Project,
New York, USA 2000
Modern Art in Uganda,
CBK Het Kunstpaleis, Deventer, Netherlands 2000
African Women Exhibition,
Gallery Watatu, Nairobi, Kenya 2001
PhD at Newcastle University 2002-2005

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