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Miriam Syowia Kyambi and James Muriuki


Location: Kilifi and Nairobi, Kenya
Research Centre: KEMRI-Wellcome Trust Research Programme

“I am primarily an installation artist living and working in Nairobi. My current interest is exploring personal relationships to cultural ideas using art. My themes explore historical and social issues around identity: intertwining the use of public and personal spaces. The concept of loss and longing remains a recurring theme, layered within my multimedia approach – creating tactile works loaded with emotional responses. I am keen on further developing traditional knowledge using contemporary methodologies.” Miriam Syowia Kyambi

“Experimenting with photo-based and new digital media, I have taken a strong interest in the transitions of time and space reflected by contemporary society. Transition time is decision time, when the known disintegrates and the unknown starts to identify. These transitions occur rapidly in some aspects and over generations in other instances. Art presents an alternative investigative tool and reveals views of these moments in a personal yet recognisable narrative. My recent projects have been looking at transitions in Kenya using the city as a reference.”  James Muriuki

While in residence, Syowia and James will collaborate on investigating how health researchers and the involved community depend on and perceive one another. The outcomes of their residency will include an exhibition, curated by Sam Hopkins.

  • First impressions

    First impressions

    "To have the scientists feel what being researched on is like. So the tables are a bit reversed."

  • Interests and approach

    Interests and approach

    "When you have fun and when you play is when some of that really interesting stuff comes out."

  • Production


    Recordings made by Miriam and James shortly after holding an open photography studio session in Kilifi town. The session invited members of the local community to have their portrait taken using various props provided by the artists.

  • Final outcomes

    Final outcomes

    James Muriuki and Miriam Syowia Kyambi’s exhibition ‘Layers: perceptions and interaction between scientists and communities’ was at the National Nairobi Museum from 10–31 December 2012.


Syowia and James began their residency in April 2012.

Miriam Syowia Kyambi’s CV [PDF, 123KB]
James Muriuki’s CV [PDF, 152KB]

Images: James Muriuki. Photo © Megumi Matsubara, 2011; Miriam Syowia Kyambi. Photo © James Muriuki, 2011

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