Alice Muthoni Gichuru

Kenya - Writing

Alice Muthoni Gichuru

Alice Muthoni Gichuru

  • AGE : 47
  • COUNTRY of residence : Kenya
  • CITY : Nairobi
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The artist

A few words about your artistic journey

I’m a Kenyan author who writes as Muthoni Wa Gichuru. I have written ten books and several short stories. I’m an awardee of the Burt Award for African writing and was shortlisted for the Commonwealth Short Story Prize 2015 and Queen Mary Wasafiri Writing Prize – Life writing category, 2019.

How long have you been an artist ?

Seventeen years as a creative writer. My first manuscript, was shortlisted for Macmillan Writers prize 2003 and published in 2010.

Why did you apply for this grant ? How will the grant support you ?

The grant will allow me to create art for a time without having to worry about finances especially now that I have lost the royalties that I get from my books. I will also be able to give a stipend to a person with production experience to provide technical advice.

What are your concrete artistic objectives after this residency ?

I aim to incorporate variety of media in creative writing so that I will be able to reach people who may have challanges such as those who are visually impaired.

Her residency

What did you achieve during this creative residency ? What is the result (created work) ? Who was involved in the creation process ?

I was able, for the first time in my life, to create a multi-media short story with text, photographs, a video and a pencil sketch, as well as an audio recording of the story. The grant enabled me to complete the project while contained at home and working with members of my family.

I did most of the story writing. Two paragraphs were written by my daughter and my house help’s daughter Naomi because I wanted them to tell their feelings about the Corona virus in their own words. One of my sons did the photography and video recording. My other son made a pencil sketch at the end of the multimedia short story. My spouse did the audio recording of the story. He also edited the story.

How do you think these activities contribute to a reflection on today’s world, in relation to the COVID-19 crisis, and/or on the shaping of the future ?

The activities carried out during a home residency reflect the new ways of doing things in the face of a global pandemic. They reflect the ways in which people can work within limitations such as those imposed by the Covid -19 crisis. To quote a sentence in the story, “this thing, this thing, we learn how to push it back.” This reflects people’s resilience and the ability to bounce back when pushed down by adversity. The activities also reflect how the future of work, of creativity and innovation will look like. The use of various media reflects the taking advantage of the technology that is available to us to reach people and to connect even when distance separates us.

How did you feel during the residency ? And at the end of it ?

It’s always been a pleasure for me to write stories and this residency gave me an opportunity to see my story telling not only in text but in photographs, in a video and in a sketch. Listening as my story was being read out took me back to my childhood when my late mother would tell me stories. Writing can be a lonely venture but now I did with a team, photographer/videographer, editor, my children who did write a small bit. It was a fulfilling experience for me and it also provided me with quality family time. I was able to create my work as I had imagined it. All in all I am satisfied with the result but I have also have gained enough insights to make the next project even better.