UNIQUE ART & UNEXPECTED SITES
When Andrew and I decided to visit Anselm Kitengela Hot Glass, I knew pretty much that we had quite a journey ahead. I had visited Anselm Croze’s studio once before on an University course excursion. The place then was in a remote area with a dusty, murram road. I doubted if anything could have changed much in the last two years… and I was right.
A previous visit to The National Museums of Kenya inspired this trip. Major hubs in Nairobi use Anselm’s murals as decor. Kitengela Hot Glass original work is handmade from recycled glass. They transform recycled glass into unique, eye catching art pieces. They have a variety of opus including; lavish murals, glass vases, bejeweled chandeliers and colorful glass mosaic.
ON OUR WAY TO KITENGELA HOT GLASS
There are two ways to get to Anselm Kitengela Hot Glass. There is the easy route and then there is the exciting route. The easy route is to drive directly up to the studio. The exciting route is much harder but definitely more fun. It entails driving up to Rolf’s Place and trekking the rest of the way. This route is reminiscent of an Indiana Jones adventure. It takes you through a swinging bridge over a gorge in green and shrubby pastures. You can already tell Anselm Kitengela Hot Glass is not your stereotypical art studio.
Andrew and I took the easy route, since we opted to travel there without a car. We took a matatu – psv minibus to Rongai and alighted at Maasai Lodge stage. There wasn’t much traffic on our way there since it was a Sunday. We requested for an Uber that took nearly thirty minutes to get to us since there was a scarcity of taxis on the app. On our way to the studio, we saw construction going on of the Standard Gauge Railway. The road to Kitengela Hot Glass is very bumpy. If you are looking for the stereotypical bumpy and dusty arid drive experience, you will definitely get it here.
Here is a map to help you get there.
GLASS BLOWING & THE ART STUDIO
We were welcomed by two of the artisans who willingly demonstrated how they make glass bowls through glassblowing. The kiln was burning up fire from hell and we could feel the heat seated meters from it. The artisan noted that the 1100 degree fire melts the crushed recycled glass for them to create. The gaffer demonstrated to us the glassblowing technique which finally culminated to the creation of a bowl.
We wandered through the complex filled with art and decor made from recycled glass such as beads and chandeliers. At the museum, there were so many beautiful pieces I was tempted to get a few myself.
THE SWINGING BRIDGE
Adjacent to Anselm Kitengela Hot Glass is Kitengela Glass. It is a community-run centre with art studios, stained glass display lounge and coffee shop.
There is also a swinging bridge that goes through a gorge. True to it’s name, the tiny but sturdy bridge swings when being crossed. Andrew was feeling adventurous and decided to cross the bridge all while filming his experience. Our guide was even more audacious.
There is an outdoor caffe fully decorated and furnished with recycled materials. The caffe’s patio has a stunning view of the gorge, Nairobi National Park and the swinging bridge.
It was six in the evening, and the coffee shop lady was getting jittery and letting everyone know that it was time to close. We had no idea how to get back to Rongai since we didn’t have good reception and therefore couldn’t request for an Uber. What a millenial type of problem to have! The artisan was kind enough to walk us to the local town taxis that would ferry us to Rongai. We both had quite a unique experience that day. I would recommend going there with a car, preferably a four by four for your own convenience.
Anselm Kitengela Hot Glass has several other stores throughout Nairobi and Kenya. You can purchase goods at the studio and stores. They also ship out their works of art Internationally.
The studio complex is very eclectic, regal and a little retro. It’s filled with bright colors, mosaic pavements and walls and unmistakable decor. It is very different from what you should usually experience from other galleries. It is without a doubt one of the most unique places to visit in Nairobi. Definitely a great place to photograph.
Have you been to Anselm Kitengela Hot Glass? Which was your favorite mural?