Wide Open Walls

A living art project in the villages of The Gambia hopes to promote this West African country as a vibrant tourist destination.

Wide Open Walls is an initiative of Lawrence Williams, one of the owners of the Makasatu conservation project at Mandina in The Gambia. A keen artist, Williams has been working with local artists on a creative project called Bushdwellers.

Envisioning the project to work as an art installation, while also promoting the region as a tourist destination, Williams was keen to expand the project by collaborating with other creatives. Recently Wide Open Walls and Write on Africa with Ricky Lee Gordon, joined creative forces to encourage inspiration and urban rejuvenation through special event and art initiatives in public spaces. The aim of the project was to “inspire ourselves to inspires others to inspire change”.

For the 2011 Wide Open Walls installation a number of street artists were chosen to participate. These artists were selected not only for their creative style, but also for their approach and attitude towards making and sharing art. The lineup included Bushdwellers (The Gambia), ROA (Belgium), Know Hope (Israel), Remed (Madrid), TIKA (Switzerland), Freddy Sam (SA), Selah (SA), and Best Ever (UK).

One of the main aims of the project was to create connections between street artists and the community through mural painting, art workshops and other interventions. Children in the different villages were also given art supplies with which to experiments, and a dilapidated classroom was refurbished by Freddy Sam and the community, turning it into a colourful space to be used as classrooms.

South African photographer, Jonx Pillemer and filmmaker Rowan Pybus captured the two-week long project on film, engaging street artists and community members to reflect on this collaborative creative process.

In the long terms this project hopes to raise funds for the village through the publication of a book with photographs of the artworks.