Nani Croze, Kitengela
About the Artist/Site
Nani Croze grew up in Germany to parents with an artistic bent; her father was a noted printmaker who primarily worked in woodcuts. In the late 1970s, visiting the Athi-Kapiti Maasailand south of Nairobi and near the National Park, Croze fell in love with the area, arid and almost treeless as it was, and decided to move there. She notes: “Kitengala started as a pioneer homestead and grew into an oasis. As the area is semi-arid, few trees would grow, so I began to build my own shade in the form of sculptures.
In 1979, she founded a stained glass studio and encouraged other artists to join into a community of like-minded creators who each brought significant and diverse skills. “Money was always scarce,” she remembers, “so we used available materials: grass, mud and stone. This has not stopped and we are still using mainly recycled materials; old glass, scrap metal and wastepaper. Glass is my favourite recycling material. I started with bottle shards as mosaic, this evolved into stained glass and then into glass blowing (by my son, Anselm) and beads (by my daughter, Katrineka).” The Kitengela compound is as eco-friendly as possible, with composting toilets, solar panels, and windmills.
While the production of glassworks fuels the overall project as the Kitengela Glass Research and Training Trust, the creation of a variety of idiosyncratic structures and sculptures has turned the site into a true art environment. Most buildings include various floors and areas of egress, with interstitial spaces painted and covered in trencadís glass mosaic. Doors may have faces, roofs rarely exhibit any rectilinear components; there is a tower with a glass bridge up in the trees, and stair treads of varying heights – bordered by undulating walls topped with the natural forms of tree branches – delight the eye. A monumental “dragon” – that also serves as a fireplace and barbecue – is located in the middle of the garden, and slightly outside of the compound is a nondenominational outdoor chapel for contemplation and thought; symbols of many of the world’s religions are included in unique freestanding stained glass sculptures. “Nothing is wasted! Even the smallest shards are reused,” Croze comments.
Croze has also placed freestanding or bas relief sculptures and structural components away from the Kitengela compound, including at the Nairobi museum, the local hospital, and the Goethe Institute. Croze and her colleagues also offer various types of training and workshop programs for locals and visitors alike, as well as an on-site gallery/shop offers a variety of glassware, furniture, beads, jewelry, and more.
For information on visiting the site, contact them at email@example.com.
~Jo Farb Hernández
Map & Site Information
Nairobi, Nairobi County ke
Latitude/Longitude: -1.292066 / 36.821946
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