William Bwalya Miko
Mwense, Zambia 1961


"In all aspects of my art practice, drawing locates itself as a process of 'mark-making' using any available implement.   This process is self-indulgence whose axis situates itself between mental and motor coordination that results in visual imagery as a graphic commentary.  This visual art result can be an intermediary image or final experimentation of the past, present and future aesthetic paradigms.” 


Born in 1961 in Mwense District, William Bwalya Miko lives and works in Lusaka. A veteran in the field, Miko is a practicing artist and culture consultant. He received a BA in 1998, followed by an MA in 1999 from Middlesex University in the UK specializing in Fine Arts. While his early work was often inspired by dance and theatrical performance from his rural childhood, Miko’s later works are focused on movement, displacement, social, economic and political issues.   


Commenting on both social and cultural displacement, his pieces are visual interpretations of the factors molding present-day African society. As well as exhibiting nationally Miko has worked with curators of the highest repute abroad, participating in the 1993 and 1997 Johannesburg Biennials and exhibiting at various galleries and museums internationally.   


Miko served as the resident artist at CRIC Switzerland in 2000 and he has held various conferences on the direction of African Art globally. Published in leading magazines such as Artforum International, Miko is an undisputed leader in the field of contemporary African art.   


He currently serves as Vice Chairman of Lechwe Trust. He was also one of the initiators of Zambia’s National Visual Arts Council and the Twaya Art Gallery, and contributed to the establishment of the first Visual Arts degree course at the new School of Media, Performing and Fine Arts at Zambian Open University, where he works as a Fine Arts Lecturer.



Students Turn Art Lecturer Into Canvas

Zambian Open University (ZAOU), September 2015 


The occasion was colourful and historic. The event turned even more colourful when the graduating students turned their brushes on their former lecturer William Miko and indiscriminately painted his face and his snow-white Pierluigi Milano suit.  


It is an anomaly that we inherited from our colonisers. This is despite them having superior fine art schools in their homeland. William who acquired a Masters Degree in Fine Arts from Middlesex University in the United Kingdom, explained that correcting the national anomaly performance is identical to the academic variance that existed in the art academia in the country.  


The absence of tertiary art education can be attributed to lack of political will from the pre-independence era; our colonisers did not introduce the subject along with others. Development of a nation without the involvement of the creative sector is like running a relay race without a button, William said.  


The innovative art lecturer who is also a full-time practicing artist, said sometimes artists ought to employ a medium that society least expect them to use. I used my body and clothing as canvas in this performance. I wanted to use a medium that would resonate, radiate and create an impact on society.  



“The message in the performance is that we are no longer a plain canvas as a country. After this graduation, fine arts now exist at the level as other subjects of human importance. The presence of colour on my body was a metaphor for the graduating students emerging on the national art scene”, William explained. “Now, that is what I call thinking outside the box. In fact it can be argued that creativity is the very basis for human development.”