Wide Open Walls is a creative initiative was founded by Lawrence Williams, one of the owners of Makasutu, a conservation project home to a set of magnificent river lodges at Mandina in The Gambia, West Africa. Lawrence, a rather gifted artist, has been working with other local artists on a project called Bushdwellers for a number of years and has always wanted to expand the project into something more, something lasting that could both serve as an art installation in itself and at the same time promote The Gambia as a tourist destination. The basic idea was to turn villages in the area (falling under the Ballabu Conservation Project) into a living art project. This year saw the first time collaboration between Wide Open Walls and Write on Africa, a South African based organization started by Ricky Lee Gordon (a.k.a Freddy Sam).
“Write On Africa” is a community art project based in Cape Town South Africa with its main focus being to encourage inspiration and urban rejuvenation through special events, initiatives and art in public space to “inspire ourselves to inspire others to inspire change”.
WOW 2011’s street artists were selected not only for their suitable styles but also for their approach and attitude towards making and sharing art. The lineup included Bushdwellers (The Gambia), ROA (Belgium), Know Hope (Israel), Remed (Madrid), TIKA (Switzerland), Freddy Sam (SA), Selah (SA), and Best Ever (UK). The immediate goals of the project were to create connections between the street artists and the communities through mural painting, art workshops and extended interventions. Art supplies were provided to children of various villages, and a dilapidated classroom was refurbished by Freddy Sam and community members, creating a colourful space and inspiring place for children to use as a crèche and a classroom. South African photographer, Jonx Pillemer and filmmaker Rowan Pybus were there to capture the two week long project, spending ample time with community members and the street artists reflecting on the interactions and friendships formed during the collaborative creative processes. This 10-minute documentary will be released online in August and will aid the process of raising funds for the communities involved through getting the works of these artists out there in the mainstream where peeps can buy photographs and coffee books and also donate to the trust.
For more info check out http://www.wideopenwalls.co.za and https://www.facebook.com/pages/Wide-Open-Walls-Gambia/121118701274068