Annual Sculptural Processes Group Artist's Talk

Acaye Kerunen: “Iwang Sawa—In the Eye of Time”

Speaker: Acaye Kerunen

Acaye Kerunen is a wearer of many hats and robes of creativity. The multidisciplinary artist works across curation, activism, creative writing, choreography, performance, sculpture and making to deliver powerful narratives about artmaking from within the great lakes region of East and central Africa.

Born and based in Kampala, Uganda, Kerunen made her international art debut in 2012 when she was highlighted by Vogue Italia as a creative, social activist to watch. Her practice provides her with passage into a renewed storytelling realm that had long been relegated to women’s domestic rituals of function. Most notably, Kerunen’s installations were seen by thousands at the 59th Venice Biennale in 2022 as part of Uganda’s first-ever national pavilion presentation, which earned the biennale jury’s special mention award.

Kerunen’s sculptural installations challenge Euro-American art hierarchies that too often overlook craft-based practices in favour of painting or other more “heroic” materials which are mostly associated with male and white imprinting of art history. Her work features biomorphic sculptures, sounds, moods and textures, which are constructed and derived from natural fibers and intergenerational labour and skills of women. The women artisans source materials such as raffia, banana fibre, stripped sorghum stems, reeds, papyrus, palm leaves and others from wetlands and other natural environments. These materials become her media of collaboration through hand-stitching, knotting, stripping, braiding and weaving techniques, which in turn have been transmitted through generations.

Kerunen’s practice is thus a cyclical dance of conservation through co-existence with nature and a continuous collaboration with women artisans. She shows less visible narratives on materiality, the storage of language over vast oceans of time, and heritage artisanship of Africa through her retelling of these heritage narratives in a time of distracted short-termism and erasure.

The lecture will be followed by a drinks reception.

Organised by Dr Pia Gottschaller (The Courtauld) and Professor Jo Applin (The Courtauld).

This event is support by the Sculptural Processes Group.

This event has passed.

30 Mar 2023

Thursday 30th March 2023, 6pm - 7.30pm BST

Free, booking essential

Vernon Square campus, Lecture Theatre 2

This is an in person event at our Vernon Square campus. Booking will close 30 minutes before the event begins.


Photograph of a section of woven fabric
Acaye Kerunen, Banange, 2021, Mixed media, 270 x 170 cm (106 ¼ x 66 7/8 in.) © Acaye Kerunen