Following a merger between the School of Industrial and Fine Arts (MTSIFA) and Faculty of Technology (FOT) early this year, MTSIFA found it necessary to restructure its Bachelors, Masters and PhD programs. From the single Industrial and Fine Arts program, developed in 1995, three programs emerged and one of which is Fine Art. If the School of Industrial and Fine Art has since its inception in 1940 achieved fame and recognition both locally and internationally, it is mainly because of the well structured and managed courses in Fine Art. Although the teaching methods have changed to suit the changing needs of the student, the aim of the department is still as Jonathan Kingdon explained 45 years ago – to develop the intrinsic talents of the students ( who come from all races and backgrounds) and the direction a students’ work derived from his/[her] own choice and inner necessity. The ultimate aim is to assist students to choose a direction based on their competence and desire.
The courses in Fine Art can be divided into two broad distinctions. The more academic disciplines which include History of Art and Drawing while the professional disciplines include Painting, Sculpture, Stained Glass, Anatomy and Printmaking. Below are the details:
Sculpture is wide ranging. Today students are able to stretch sculpture beyond the traditional boundaries of carving wood, stone and plaster of Paris, modeling in clay and wax and casting in metal, to conceptual art where it is the idea rather than the skilful manipulation of the material that counts. Clay is the most readily and abundantly available in Uganda and there most frequently used in the sculpture studio. It is also fortunately the most versatile material available to a sculptor. In the studio, we either model it to a terracotta finish or use as a transit medium to more permanent materials like bronze or cement. With the two fire wood kilns in the department (large and small) we are able to fire both the clay work and the investments for lost wax casting. This type casting which in Uganda is available only in Makerere, enables students to produce sculptures in bronze, brass and aluminium. The essential equipment here is the foundry which is able to melt the metals mentioned above. Students are also exposed to wood carving using both modern and traditional methods.
Both Painting and Sculpture are the oldest and perhaps most enduring disciplines in the department. The media used in Painting are oil colors, acrylic colors, water colors, pastels and powder colors painted on a variety of surfaces which include paper, canvas material, hard board, wall surfaces etc. Attention is paid to functional fitness of various media for specific locations. The department encourages students to treat Painting as a medium that can be extended and applied in other disciplines as well as itself being enriched by these disciplines.
A variety of materials and processes are available for the printmaker at Makerere. They include Lino Cutting where a linoleum is cut by various sharp tools to create white areas in a solid block. This is surface printing. The ink when printing, is rolled on to the remaining areas of the surface of the block then paper is laid on top and pressure applied evenly. Wood engraving. Here sharp tools are used to gauge out white areas on plywood similar to lino cutting. The printing process too is similar. With this method however, one can achieve richer textures and sharper lines. In Silk Screen printing, silk or nylon is stretched over a wooden frame and stencils are cut and fixed on to the silk. Ink is passed over the stencils on to paper with a squeegee. The ink dries quickly and can be printed quickly.
With the expansion of construction industry in the recent past, Stained Glass has gained momentum in the department especially as it has now been extended beyond the religious to secular spaces. Innovations in stained glass have also led to production of mosaic art on any conceivable surface.
History of Art
All works of art are expression of life conditioned by a variety of pressures which may be religious, social, political etc.. History of Art seeks to explain these expressions of life art within a certain set of circumstances and conditions. A detailed study of particular periods and cultures, African, European, Asiatic, etc… leading to a wide appreciation of the artistic activities of the human race is carried out throughout the three years of the Fine Art program.
Life Drawing and Objective Study
This course which looks at the human figure and the general environment aims to develop insight into the richly varied nature of drawing through the students’ own practice and a variety of exercises. The tropical environment, the cultural life as well as the bustling life of Kampala city and beyond are investigated through line, tone and color. As well as feeding into professional courses, drawing can stand as an independent self sustaining discipline.
With the increasing attention and interest of African Art particulalry in Europe and America, the market for African Art is getting brighter. This is not to underestimate the local market which is also growing each day. New Art Galleries are opening up to take the growing number of artists looking for avenues to market their products. Prospects for free lance Fine Artists are therefore bright.
Fine Artists can also work as school teachers as well as lecturers in teachers training institutions and universities, in Museums and Art Galleries as curators, in civil service as Community Development and Culture Officers, in the art sections of the Televisions Broadcasting etc..