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Nina Bové Manuscripts in Paint: West African Rhythms

Nina Bove

Nina Bové | Manuscripts in Paint: West African Rhythms

FAC Function Centre - Atrium Gallery

23 April to 15 August

Entry free

Traditional and contemporary rhythms of West African drum and dance culture from Senegal, the Gambia and Mali are the inspiration for Manuscripts in Paint: West African Rhythms. A celebration of being in the moment and the powerful messages of peace, love, compassion, social harmony and the hope conveyed through music.

The traditional and contemporary rhythms of West African drum and dance culture from Senegal, The Gambia and Mali are the inspiration for my painting series entitled, Manuscripts in Paint: West African Rhythms. The musicians’ rhythms are fundamentally based on the djembe drum and sometimes kora (African harp) and the vocals express ancient cultural values and codes of conduct, messages of peace, harmony and understanding so that communal life is happy and healthy, culture is respected and integral to daily life.

I have been most fortunate to have been socially and artistically involved with the West African musical communities in Melbourne since the early 2000s. Their positive energy, strength of spirit, ability to understand, forgive and be inclusive, inspires me significantly.

I have subsequently become more enlightened, more patient, more intuitive and a calmer person.  I have, most delightfully, learned to intuitively feel the energy of the powerful drum and dance rhythms, through going to many local gigs, much dancing and listening to the musician’s produced cds, all of which have enabled me to really feel these rhythms within myself, whether dancing or painting.

The rhythms of the above West African countries bring me enormous joy, my heart becomes lighter, I dance in response to the music and my soul is uplifted. 

Artistically I am exploring creating visual translations of music through applying calligraphic marks in paint, using mostly gestured strokes and abstract notations. I let my brush dance across the canvas as I paint the rhythms. The layers are applied, then that moment comes when the works are complete. Sometimes I take quite a few weeks, even months, to make a painting, sometimes only half an hour. It all depends on how I feel and what I want to say in them. Painting is what I love to do. I need to dance as well, both are medicinal for me.

This exhibition’s objective is to document my positive experience of cross-cultural collaborative arts practice, through interpreting West African music in paint, simultaneously encouraging viewers to embrace both visual and musical mediums.  

I hope my paintings bring joy and inspiration to those that see them, they are made to celebrate the moment, reflecting how I feel about the musicians I have met, their positive energy and powerful, beautiful music with messages of peace, love, compassion, social harmony and hope. I give thanks to the musicians for sharing their rhythms, dances and stories of culture.


-          Nina Bové, 7 July 2014