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40 Under 40 Africa

Cyrus Kabiru

28 September 2020

Artist and founder of Art Orodha Kenya, Thika

The self-taught artist Cyrus Kabiru is widely known for the intricate eyewear he crafts from found materials – a process born from his desire to construct objects of lasting, personal value from industrial detritus, and which has recently seen him move on to reconstructing radios and bicycles. Kabiru is also a founder of Art Orodha Kenya, a centre in the industrial town of Thika, 25 miles to the northwest of Nairobi, that provides support to emerging contemporary artists and which opened earlier this year. The centre provides studio spaces to rent, classes and exhibitions; it also aims to develop local audiences for art through a programme of public art education initiatives. Artists supported by the centre include Nairobi-born John Ndumia, who designs watches from found objects and assemblage sculptures from sacking cloth, and the textile artists Wambui Nduhiu and George Kamiti.

During the Covid-19 pandemic, Kabiru has decorated and distributed more than 1,000 masks to residents of low-income neighbourhoods in Nairobi. He was named a Quartz Africa Innovator in 2016.

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