“Colours of Zanzibar” art exhibition

Artist BJ Boulter shows ‘Colours of Zanzibar’

The venue is the restored Casa da Cultura in Silves

An art exhibition by local artist BJ Boulter to celebrate the “Colours of Zanzibar” will open on Saturday, June 17 at the Casa da Cultura Luso-Árabe e Mediterrânica in Silves, at 4pm.

These artworks are figurative, reflecting her journeys to Zanzibar in the early nineties. Recently, the influx of tourism is affecting the island, depriving local communities of access to marine and coastal resources, which are now the centre of tourist activity.

BJ Boulter grew up in Dar es Salaam, the capital of Tanganyika, on the Indian Ocean. She attended Saint Martin’s School of Art and Lucie Clayton School of Design in London. Arriving in Portugal to join her family recently arrived from Tanzania over 60 years ago, she settled in Algarve, making it her home, her base from which to explore other countries.

Her lifelong career as a production designer for films began in Hong Kong and has taken her around the world, always behind the camera. Drawing and painting were an integral part of her work in set design. “I love creating a scene to tell a story.” This is a process which she currently indulges in full-time.

Nowadays, her sketchbook is always with her, ready to capture the scene, from which she draws inspiration to portray a story on canvas.

The Casa da Cultura is located at Largo da República (western end of Silves next to the High School).

Casa da Cultura Luso-Árabe e Mediterrânica in Silves

This summer exhibition will be open weekdays from 9am to 1pm and 2pm to 5pm and is free.

Artist’s statement

BJ Boulter writes: “Zanzibar. The very name evokes enchantment. Her palm fringed pearlescent sandy beaches are washed by a pale, transparent, azure sea. This Spice Island enriches our palate with exotic flavours and fragrances, and is enhanced by her colourful people.

“On returning in 1990 after many years, I worked on a short film. I began to wander through the narrow streets of Stone Town, Zanzibar’s only city. I marvelled at gigantic, lavishly carved doors opening into luminous courtyards. There were tiny shops, darkly full of ancient wares. Baskets full of spices were displayed in the market hall. Bustling fishermen delivered the day’s catch to the harbour master, and bicycles and mopeds paraded by, piled high with goods.

“Hiring a little bike, I tootled through spice groves, banana plantations, and palm thatched villages and schools. I paused at silvery beaches to watch boatbuilders working. The excitement of enterprise was palpable, craftsmen ready to chat and tell their stories in musical, lilting, Spice Island Swahili. The people of Zanzibar are imprinted in my memory, with their enthusiasm to be involved in the film, and with their delight when their craftsmanship was admired and appreciated.

“My memories bring the voices of Zanzibar to this exhibition. Collected in my studio are a cache of colourful kangas with Swahili proverbs. My challenge is to tell their stories. Zanzibar was a joyous experience, and as an artist, I try to capture the texture and colours of these gorgeous fabrics.”

 For more information, contact the artist on [email protected]  

BJ Boulter’s artworks can be viewed at bjboulter.com

“Colours of Zanzibar” art exhibition poster