Go Back Ceramics as a Voice for the Protection of the Environment: On Art, Eco-activism and the Flower in Ceramic Art in Uganda


This article analyses purposively selected artworks done by three Ugandan ceramists: Ben Mukalazi, Emmanuel Kalule Ssekitto and Bruno Sserunkuuma. We engage the proposition that although artists in Uganda use flora and fauna in artworks that are not politically charged, there is a specific use of flower motifs to produce ceramic work that functions as much a statement about art—and art-making—as it is a poignant statement about protecting the environment, and the politics of eco-activism, albeit sometimes obliquely. We have interrogated the artists' recent works, assessing the ways in which their activism is implicated into a debate on the wider continental issues of governance and constitutionalism that give new meaning to the flowers, and floral motifs, on their ceramic works. We examine the artists' use of flowers, and flower buds, to demonstrate and argue that in addition to the production of art, ceramists in Uganda have fused their pots into a campaign to save the environment. The paper contributes to the debate on the role of art in the preservation and protection of the environment in Uganda and beyond.

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