Dr Kate Cowcher, Janan Eochu, Dr Deirdre Mackenna At British Council Kampala, Uganda 27.01.2024. Image Courtesy Of CHARTS 2

CHARTS visits Kampala, Uganda

In January 2024, CHARTS’ International Manager, Dr Deirdre MacKenna, undertook a visit to Uganda, made possible by the invitation of Dr Kate Cowcher, University of St Andrews and funding from Creative Scotland through CHARTS’s Growing Global Networks (GGN) programme.

Making new connections in Uganda brought together CHARTS’ GGN and The Argyll Collection, Reconnected, a project working to reactivate The Argyll Collection in partnership with Argyll and Bute Council

The Argyll Collection's foundations date from the 1960s, when a new generation of international cultural thinking and working started to take root and flourish in Argyll. The Collection was created through Argyll and Bute Council by Naomi Mitchison and Jim Tyre with the aim of providing access to cultural resources to stimulate people living in rural, coastal and island areas. The Collection allowed people living in Argyll to access public artworks often presented only in metropolitan locations, and its artworks depict images of many aspects of our lives (both local and global), stimulating thinking about our relationships with place, individual and collective identities and rituals, how communities are affected by colonial, national and local politics, and how communities look after their members, their natural resources, and their cultures.  

During their visit Dr MacKenna and Dr Cowcher were introduced to the cultural and social history of Kampala by Prof. Angelo Kakande and Prof. Amanda Tumusiime of The Margaret Trowell School of Technical and Fine Arts at the University of Makerere and were welcomed by a wide range of people and organisations including The University of Makerere Gallery; British Council Kampala; 32º East, the Ugandan Arts Trust; Umoja Art Gallery; Afriart Gallery; The Alliance Francois and Goethe Institute.

The visit included an introduction to the murals of Cecil Todd and Sam Ntiro, located at the university, which stimulated curatorial dialogues about connections between the themes and concerns addressed by the artists of The Argyll Collection working at the same historical period to make works which address related concerns, such as in ‘Cutting Wood’ by Sam Joseph Ntiro (1967) and ‘Gathering Sea Coal’ by Frances Walker (1971) which both depict images of collective community labour in rural/coastal areas.

By exploring the stories of some of the Argyll Collection artworks, the visit to Uganda enabled CHARTS to gain insight into how the artists made works and how Naomi Mitchison first encountered them in Africa and recognised the value of the artworks as teaching resources for people in Scotland. The visit and new dialogues have contributed to the further definition of the value of CHARTS’s international working and of sustained periods of international exchange to enable artists to progress their practices through a range of contexts and communities in micro-local, regional, international and global contexts.


Find out more about Dr Kate Cowchers work with the Modern African Art from the Argyll Collection 

The Argyll Collection Reconnected