In front of KMD in Møllendalsveien 61: Petter Bergerud, Tale Vik, Ronald Kibudde Mpindi, Åsil Bøthun, Edward Balaba, Lilian Nabulime, Frode Thorsen, Philip Kwesiga, Mona Larsen, Johan Sagan, Mikkel Wettre (Photo: Bjarte Bjørkum)
In 2018, professor Åsil Bøthun, associate professor Steinar Sætre and professor Petter Bergerud visited Makerere in order to look into the possibilities for future collaborations. Makerere has long standing cooperation with UiB, but never before within the fields of art and design.
– At Makerere the Norwegian delegation met artist and senior lecturer in sculpture, Lilian Nabulime, and Dean Philip Kwesiga. On both sides there was a strong wish for collaboration, and a sense that this could be beneficial both for the Norwegian and Ugandan students and staff, says Åsil Bøthun.
In the spring of 2021 there was a a call for the Norpart-programme. A collaborative team excising of the Makarere colleagues, professor Mikkel Wettre and professor Åsil Bøthun together with research adviser, Thomas de Ridder, applied and secured the project. Thus “Common Ground, Multidisciplinary artistic practice in public space. Internationalizing and nurturing local indigenous knowledge" got almost 7,5 million kroner for a period of five years. A total of 74 students will take part in the exchange, four students coming to art and design on full scholarships, 17 students are doing semester exchange, while 50 students doing two week workshops about materials and community. During the project period 19 academic staff from both sides will also spend research and teaching periods at each other’s institutions.
To see with new eyes
We meet Lilian Nabulime at KMD where she is part of a delegation from the art and design departments at Makerere. Her own Ph.D she earned from the University of Newcastle . She says British art education opened a door to a new way of thinking about art.
– They wanted me to change the way I made art, change the traditional art I made at the time. This was an eye opener for me and changed my art a whole lot. Our students in the art and design departments at Makerere are in a way blind to the different possibilities inherent in art. By coming to Bergen they will understand that they need to open up. They can learn from how far the students here stretch the material, and how artists here look upon conceptual art.
– Maybe they will also discover that the art scene in Africa and Europe are not so different. Europes exposure to new developing art is for instance more open than before. Above all I think that interaction between students from North and South, where they can share experiences in art making, will be very valuable. We will facilitate exchange of skills, and for the Ugandan students the technology here at KMD will be mind-blowing, says Nabulime who adds that another interesting thing for the Ugandan students is that in Europe they will experience different daylight, which lasts longer or shorter according to the time of year than in Uganda. And different weather. The Ugandan students will for instance participate in workshops where ice and snow is used as material for sculptures, installations and musical instruments.
Lilian Nabulime goes on to say that on the other hand, the Norwegian students will, when visiting Makerere, understand that they are blessed, that their opportunities in making art are endless. They will learn how to make art from scarce materials, in a totally different context. In a different light, different culture, different political questions to be challenged.
According to Åsil Bøthun major collaborations with institutions like Makerere is something that our subjects have been lacking. Students have complained about the scarce voices from other parts of the world than the western. – We hardly have any African students in our programs. This is a problem, and during the last years, there have been critical debates about the diversity in art education in Scandinavia. We need to become more diverse, this is also supported by the strategy of the University of Bergen.
It is not self evident, however, that African students want to come to Europe.
– An interesting development in African art education, is that the African students do not always seek to go to their former colonizers, like the UK or France, but tend to go to Asia in great numbers, tells Ronald Kibudde Mpindi who did his ph.d. in Japan.
Professor Petter Bergerud says he finds the prospect of working together with students and staff from Makerere very inspirational.
– It is a win-win situation; very much is similar, and very much is different. Some of the workshops are on sustainable materials and traditional craft, something I think will be very interesting indeed.
The first activity is an academic research visit at KMD by lecturer Edward Balaba this coming autumn, followed by a workshop at Makerere with students from KMD in collaboration with the Makerere students in November. This workshop will focus on reuse and recycled local materials in lesser privileged areas of Kampala. In February there will be a workshop at KMD where the materials are snow and ice. Workshops in KMD are initiated by KMD, while Makerere organizes and decides the themes of their workshops.
Exhibition in Kampala
The project will end with an exhibition at the National Museum in Kampala in the spring of 2026.
– I am excited to follow and undertake the activities over the coming years, and believe that the knowledge, experience and insight we will acquire out of this collaboration, will be very valuable for everyone involved. This project will set a mark upon our programs for the future, where interdisciplinarity and diversity shall play an important role in the development of curriculum at both institutions, Åsil Bøthun says.
Facts: Faculty of Art, Music and Design has received funding through NORPART - Norwegian Partnership Programme for Global Academic Cooperation. And will for the next five years collaborate with Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda.
The NORPART programme shall enhance the quality of higher education in Norway and selected partner countries in the Global South through academic cooperation and mutual student mobility.