Helen Scales

Gambia street art close up 2 by Helen Scales

Strolling through a village of paintings

My latest report for Outlook on the BBC World Service comes from the Gambia where I took a stroll around a remote village that has been turned into a living street art gallery. Artists from around the world have come to the village and used walls and houses as their canvass.

It was a sleepy late afternoon when I arrived in the village of Makumbaya with two friends. We’d come to see some of the artworks created by Wide Open Walls, a development project that brings international street art to the Gambia. The idea is to establish a living art project among rural communities and ultimately its hoped this will generate much-needed tourist income for the villages involved (Gambia is one of the poorest countries in Africa) and inspire young Gambian artists.

Wandering through an African village is certainly an unusual way of seeing works of art but undoubtedly a lot of fun. Around each corner we spotted new murals. The animals were my favourite – a pile of zebra, a crow, a stork, a porcupine, a pangolin.

With my big headphones and radio recording gear it wasn’t long before I caught the attention of a gaggle of kids who followed us around, shrieking and cheering into my microphone. I let one boy listen to his voice in my headphones so of course everyone else had to have a go too.

Wide Open Walls is the brainchild of artists Njogu Touray and Lawrence Williams who work together as Bushdwellers.  Hear more from them both in my Outlook report (starts around the 16 min mark). You can also download a free podcast of the episode here.

And you can see more of the Wide Open Walls artwork on their Facebook page.

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