The Wide Open Wall project was started by Lawrence Williams, designer and proprietor of the magnificent ecological and cultural project at Makasutu and the river lodges at Mandina. The project is now in its third year. Lawrence, a keen artist himself, had been working with 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 function as a valid art installation in itself and at the same time promote The Gambia as a tourist destination. The basic idea was to turn some of the village of Kubuneh within the Ballabu area into a living art project. After speaking with Eelus, a street artist of world renown, Lawrence suddenly had himself a curator and the first Wide Open Walls project was born.
So last October, 8 street artists from around the world came to The Gambia and over the course of two weeks, turned the village of Kubuneh into a living art project. The results are at once revelatory and yet oddly unintrusive - the pieces seeming to blend in well with the environment. At times, you miss the artwork (on a compound wall, midway up the trunk of a huge baobab) so well do they seem fit in.
The project was an equal success in 2011, with Ricky Lee Gordon (aka Freddy Sam) of Write On Africa in the curatorial role. You can read about the project here, and see some of the beautiful resulting images.
And now the 2012 project is well underway, with various artists either already returning (see some fantastic work from David Shillinglaw on the Gambia blog) or still in The Gambia working their magic.
In terms of the future, Lawrence is already thinking about the next Wide Open Walls for 2013. Please speak to our team in resort if you are interested in seeing the project as the villagers of the Ballabu region are always happy to receive visitors.
To find out more see this interview with Lawrence about the project on our Gambia blog, plus an interview with Eelus the first Wide Open Walls curator. There is also this excellent video of the artwork filmed by Matt Glen. Keep up with future developments on the Wide Open Walls Facebook page.