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Weazher Mayanja on the fire of art

‘Art is my life; I love spending on anything related to art’

The Independent | AGNES E NANTABA | Weazher Mayanja is an artist who is known for his Tadooba technique of using soot in powder and smoke form to paint art pieces. But he also paints, does sculpture, draws, writes novels, and plays musical instruments. He is also the brain behind Tadooba Gallery in Nangwa Mukono District.

Tadooba is the local name for a wick candle. Unlike the wax wick candles that people are familiar with, the Tadooba uses paraffin to fuel and its wick is thick; giving off a thick plume of soot as it burns.

Mayanja was playing around with the soot from the kitchen when his palm was imprinted on the wall. It got him thinking about developing soot as a paint medium. After all other alternatives are costly and hard to reach while soot is accessible and environmentally friendly. So he started experimenting.

Mayanja collects soot from local kitchens to use in his art works. His style was initially rejected in different galleries in Uganda something that he blames on limited experience and exposure. Interest has since grown as he catches the attention of many art lovers.

He held his first Tadooba exhibition at Nommo Gallery in Kampala in 2016. It was a whole new style that exposed him to the outside world. His works found a way into the export market and contrary to the experience in Uganda, the response was positive.

Mayanja has exhibited his works in galleries and museums in Uganda, Norway, Germany, Denmark and Belgium.

He says, “It was looked at as a new style.”

“My art works focus on beautifying and preserving the environment, creating solutions to the community’s basic needs, and communicating to the community through cultural themes,” he says.

With the Tadooba technique, Mayanja says he gets to grips with his bearings and uses the heightened consciousness to carve out his niche with materials like Tadooba flames, soot, charcoal, soil and acrylics.

Mayanja is also a lecturer at Kyambogo University, something that he says, fulfills a childhood dream of sharing knowledge with others. During class breaks, Mayanja would organize his fellow students into groups and imitate teachers.

“The power interest pushed me to develop interest in becoming a teacher,” he says.

“Even in art, I am still a teacher because I teach people and they are inspired through my works.”

Mayanja is the third born in a family of seven. His name Weazher is unusual. He says his parents wanted him to be “wiser” so he crafted the Weazher name. Born and raised in Kampala, spending most of his early days in Kampala slums, Mayanja’s passion for art, drawings and music started when he was about seven years old. He would mold toy cars and other kids play items out of clay. Mayanja went through Sacred Heart of Jesus, Colline Wells International Educational Institutions, Uphill College School and Jungo Senior Secondary School.

He holds a Diploma in art and design from Michelangelo School of Creative Arts awarded by Kyambogo University, a bachelor’s degree in Art and Industrial Design, a Postgraduate Diploma in Education, a Master’s Degree in Art and Industrial Design from the same University and later a Master’s degree in Vocational Pedagogy from Oslo Metropolitan University.

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