As I walked into the Fusion Arts exhibition area, my eyes were immediately attracted by the blue spangling – dark blues and lighter ones, interspersed with red, green and black – of a mosaic of the map of 'Africa,' with the name of the continent emblazoned across it, in red, gold and green, on a background of black. A perfect introduction to the art of Nadine Nabawanuka Williams.
I say perfect – not only because the piece is my personal favourite – but because her creativity is very much influenced by her heritage. For example, on the right side of the display area is one of the two tables featured (upcycling is an important part of her creativity). Another mosaic, it depicts the Antiguan flag, with its colours of red, white, blue and black, topped by the image of a rising sun: a gift for her favoured elder, her uncle Richard. The other table, featuring Queen Nefertiti in mosaic, was placed below the aforementioned '
As well as the mosaics there are paintings and writings. To the right of the central piece was 'Afro Woman.' As the title suggests, we saw an afro-headed female face, whose visage was illumined by a wonderful inter-weaving of a kaleidoscope of colours: it could grace any Stevie Wonder album cover. To the right of her, was a piece titled 'Sahara Sunset,' a fusion of mosaic and painting, which showed three camels in black silhouette on black earth, ascending a black hill, against an enchanting background of orange and red - and a yellow moon. To the right of this, we see huts, a river, grass, a tree; a sky for evening meditation, in blues, purple, red with a white moon, in a painting titled 'African Reverie.' To the left of 'Africa' is 'Veronica', named after the Antiguan mother of the artist; it is a tribute to womanhood, where we saw two women in silhouette; one seated, one carrying a pot on her head; the necklace of one radiating alongside the sky of sunset entrancement.
The writings, about heritage, the environment and love, were written in black on a green background, or displayed in miniature versions of the African map, coloured red, yellow or green; a very attractive way to display text and thinking. The green background was in the shape of blades of grass, the title of a piece of writing on the environment. The blade of grass theme was continued with blades of green mosaic, which embellished two pieces of black ceramic.
The first exhibition by this Oxford-based artist – two pieces were sold and one commission was given - was a celebration of colour (blue being one of her personal favourites) and of heritage. The name Nabawanuka was given her by her Ugandan father, meaning ''sent with a blessing,''. And this is what the visitors would have received throughout this Black History Month event: a celebration of culture with a blessing from the rainbow.