NEWS | MUSIC
By Franco Mwachande Jnr
The coming in of Covid-19 pandemic has affected various sectors of the society including visual arts industry as this artistic work heavily relies on foreign tourists. One of the affected artists is Lilongwe-based Chrisford Chayera who uses his mouth to draw and paint.
The inborn talent hugely overshadows his physical disability. Without arms and relying on wheelchair for mobility, Chayera has gone on to produce impressive paintings in all forms, including portraits and landscapes. Seeing him taking a brush and pencil with his mouth to start sketching a drawing, one would wonder if Chayera would really nail it…Perfectly he delivers.
Chayera told Entertainment Malawi that though his hands are not functional, he is able to work with his mouth and manages producing five portraits per day. Simply put, not only are his painting marvelous, but also how he does them…painting using his mouth. He is a rare breed not only in Malawi but globally.
The father of four says with the money earned from his paintings he opened a shop in Kawale (Liongwe) which he displays and sells his paintings.
Unfortunately, his story is now changing.
“My shop was vandalized last year and all printing equipment stolen, including paintings and brushes. And coming in of Covid-19 pandemic has worsen the situation as I’m not making normal sales,” he cried.
The former Visual Arts Association of Malawi (VAAM) president, who relies on his artistic works for a living, said due to the pandemic he is not currently able to get support from his sponsors in the United States of America.
Meanwhile, Chayera is calling upon the citizenry to start appreciating local arts and uplift fellow countryfolk.
“It should begin with us supporting each other in a scenario like this and I think if we take buy Malawi strategy into consideration, our life as artists could change,” pleads Chayera.
He added that he is in dire need of help to square up his escalating bills, and also set up a small-scale business to sustain his livelihood.
“With my situation, I don’t know if I’ll manage to pay school fees for my children if school re-opens. I only pray for a miracle to happen because my situation is making my future look bleak,” said he.
Meanwhile, former VAAM president Mike Chilemba said he is aware of Chayera’s situation. He however, says his association is financially incapacitated to bail artists like Chayera in this trying period.
“It’s very hard to empower artists like Chayera in this period as an association because on its own, VAAM has very insufficient funds due to lack of funding and poor revenue collection. I appeal to well-wishers to bail such unique artists as Chayera,” pleads he.
Chayera, has participated in over 30 exhibitions in several places within and outside Malawi. In 2017 he was decorated with the Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) Innovations Award. In 2012, he was named the Best artist award by the Copyright Association of Malawi (COSOMA) while in 2010 he received an award of best Artist of the Year courtesy of Bwalo la Aluso.