Artwolfe sat down with the artist and sculptor, Alfeus Mvula to talk about what he’s working on, art in Namibia and how his experiences abroad have shaped him.
Artwolfe: Tell us a bit about yourself…
Alfeus: I am a visual artist and professional sculptor. I have started an initiative called Art In the House which aims to promote artists and create contact with the international art world. I am the founder of this organization and it has been going on since 2005
Artwolfe: What exactly do you do at ‘Art in The House’?
Alfeus: We invite international artists to come from abroad and give workshops and trainings, particularly in stone. Alfredo Andres Gacias is one in particular who has come. He is a stone sculptor from Spain and he focuses on white marble and granite. Carmen Hildago who is a painter also came to Namibia to hold workshops with students in school and develop educational programmes.
Artwolfe: When did you first go abroad for your work?
Alfeus: The first time I went abroad was in 1999 and this was for one month. It was through a project called Culture In the Neighbourhood. It was a mural project and the aim of the project was to paint murals as an exchange. Murals were painted in Katutura and also Windhoek Central and this was repeated in Hakunila and Helsinki.
The next time I went abroad was in 2001. This was through the help of a friend, Allan Fib from a Finland Organization. The organization had asked me to come over and help hold workshops in the schools for one month. This was to teach cardboard prints, a very Namibian way of printing.
In 2004, I went to Germany again when the Borken Museum in Hessen invited some Namibian artists to show our work, teach cardboard printing as well, and they also had us discuss issues around the Herero Genocide. This was a travelling show and we moved throughout Germany.
In 2006, I received a scholarship to study at Bremen School of Art, in North Germany. It took a total of 3 years and I also had to learn German. Here I learned how to carve stone. This was very influential because nobody was doing this technique in Namibia and I wanted to bring it back with me and teach it to Namibians. We have the stones here already and nobody is taking advantage of them.
Artwolfe: What kind of experience did you have abroad, what did you get out of it?
Alfeus: I gained experience, I created contacts and met different people who were influential. When abroad, you are given a chance to see different art events, visit big museums and be exposed to other artists. When lots of artists come together they give an energy, you exchange ideas. This is a great position to be in as an artist.
In 2004, I went to the Picasso Museum in Koln, in Germany. There was a huge annual art fair going on and I was able to see many many artist’s work. Most of the town was provided with artworks as a result, that are displayed in public spaces. Every 10 years they switch these sculptures around and new ones go up.
How great would it be if we could have that on Robert Mugabe Street, the street that all art and culture institutions are based? If we could replicate that we could show people here how important the arts are and why they still need to be developed more. This would bring the stakeholders together as well and show the community why the arts are very important.
Being abroad allows you to examine your identity. When abroad, you think about the arts at home and how you can implement some of the things you have learned. When home you think about the positive influence people have had on you.