“Installation work can be anything from having a sculpture within a particular space as a single object to tell a particular story, or in my type of work, I use multiple items. I will use the space as an experience,” says Installation artist Wambui Kamiru Collymore.
Wambui measures the success of an exhibition by the reaction of others, “I know I have made a good installation when people can have a conversation around it and can raise new questions that I can explore. I think a good installation simplifies a complex thought.”
She emphasizes the importance of the audience experience, “I’m an artist in that I use yourself, as the audience, to come into this space to experience my thoughts and my experiences, and then we can have a conversation around that.”
She also explores the use of different senses, and normally includes three out of the five senses in her installation. “It allows the audience to immerse themselves deeper in the work. It’s not just about seeing the work against the wall,” she says.
Wambui says that her artistic process can last years until she gets to the point of the exhibition. The first step is writing, “I tend to keep notes and articles. I like to people-watch and I follow the news. I jot down thoughts and have conversations.” The next step is applying this research to her work, “Over time, that transforms itself into, how do I interpret what I heard in that conversation at the restaurant? What items can I put together to show what I was feeling and possibly how the other person was feeling?”
“The installation process is a therapeutic, cathartic experience for me as an artist, and that the end result is the easiest part,” she shares.
Looking to the future, Wambui hopes that this artistic space continues to grow. Wambui shares her hopes going forward, “I would like to see a space that’s funded so that then it does not have to worry about making money commercially. If art continues to grow in the way that it does, we have a new tool that allows people to awaken to their particular situations and to have a voice to what they’re experiencing.”
Wambui shared her experience in the latest episode of Africa Avant-Garde, where CNN featured African artists, curators, and gallerists who spoke about Installation Art: its uniqueness, its challenges, and the journey from idea to completion.