Yony Waite (Kenyan, born 1935)
Lamu Rooftops, 1990s
Signed ‘YonyWaite’ (lower right)
Ink on washi (Japanese handmade paper)
67.4 x 34.8 cm
Ksh 150,000 – 200,000
(US$) 1,450 – 1,950
Provenance: direct from the artist

Yony Waite, now a Kenyan citizen, grew up on the Pacific Island of Guam. She studied Fine Art at the University of California where her tutor, Richard Diebenkorn, instilled in her a keen appreciation of the essential value of light. Waite later went to Japan to study the art of sumi-e brush painting where she developed a lasting love of ink as a medium.

When Waite moved to Lamu, she found the combination of coconut trees, thatched roofs and shadowy narrow streets (plus the occasional cat) a perfect subject for brush and ink on rice paper. This piece was painted in Lamu about 25 years ago, soon after Waite’s large solo exhibition in Matsumoto, Japan – the mountain town where she had lived on a rice farm and painted under the mentorship of Sanshirō Ikeda.

Alongside her work as an artist, Waite has been instrumental in establishing various art institutions in Kenya, most notably as co-founder of Gallery Watatu in 1968 which was sold to Ruth Schaffner in 1984. She went on to establish Wildebeeste Workshops and the Mkonokono women’s group in Lamu where she still lives.

Waite has a strong international following and has exhibited extensively in Japan, the USA and Kenya.