Hellen Nabukenya laces social realities with a creative interrogation of challenges faced by women into a well-structured multifaceted social narrative. As a child she was attracted to engage in stitching and crocheting activities with her mother. Her work re-invents a wealth of memories witnessed as a child staying with her mother as she grew up to become passionate about fashion and textiles.
In 2008, she completed her education in textile design at Kyambogo University. In the ensuing years as a textile artist, she needed studio assistants for the labour-intensive techniques she employs. Instead of following the regular pattern of instructing assistants, Nabukenya invited women in her community of Buziga to interact with her collection at her studio. She offered training and a degree of freedom many had rarely encountered. Subsequently, they were able to share personal stories in conversations and eventually woven into the art itself.
Abalamu Baseesa Gwaka (The living keep up only the burning fire)
Created by the artist and the women from her community in Kampala, this textile installation tells the story of fashion trends in Uganda. It also tells the stories of the women who made it and the collective energy that it was created with.