Naomi Wanjiku Gakunga, Tuwawili - Two of us, 2015, Sheet metal and steel wire, 264 x 51 x 26 cm. Courtesy October Gallery. Photo: Jonathan Greet
Naomi Wanjiku Gakunga, Tuwawili - Two of us, 2015, Sheet metal and steel wire, 264 x 51 x 26 cm. Courtesy October Gallery. Photo: Jonathan Greet  

Naomi Wanjiku Gakunga’s sculptural works are made from textured sheet metal and steel wire. A range of supplementary materials are occasionally incorporated in innovative ways. The works in sheet metal and woven wire combine traditional techniques with contemporary materials and processes. The galvanised sheet metal – known as mabati – is intertwined with Gakunga’s childhood memories, when grass thatch roofs on Kenyan homes were eventually replaced by mabati. Gakunga’s method involves carefully oxidising rolls of sheet metal by submerging in water, occasionally adding dyes to produce a range of chromatic effects.

Gakunga studied and lectured in design at the University of Nairobi, Kenya, before continuing her graduate work at the University of California, Los Angeles, USA. She has been included in exhibitions in the US, the UK, France, Brazil and Poland. In 2016, she was shortlisted for the Financial Times/Oppenheimer Funds Emerging Voices Awards and in 2017, her sculpture Mũgogo – The Crossing was exhibited at the Royal Academy’s Summer Exhibition, London.