October 29, 2006
Asni Gallery: My favouite place in Ethiopia #5
Drive down the steep, curving road that loops down into a valley and climbs up again to a beautiful bank of green trees and the wooded compound of the French Embassy. Pass the Embassy gates then take the first turning right after the Total petrol station.
About 100 yards down the cobbled lane, a drive branches off to your right, leading up to a big metal gate marked with four letters - A-S-N-I.
This is the Asni Gallery which, according to our indispensable Lonely Planet guide to Ethiopia & Eritrea, is "housed in the 1912 villa of Lej Iyassu's minister of justice Afe Negus Tilahun".
Afe Negus Tilahun had good taste. It's all carved wooden balustrades and cool, dark rooms and a wide balcony around the whole building where you can sit enjoy the Saturday afternoon vegetarian spread. Everything is raised up so you get views over the villas and valleys and green trees all around.
Inside there are two floors of gallery space, with hold an ever-changing display of modern Ethiopian paintings and sculptures. At the moment, the basement is given over to 'Nuru's Nastro Art' which does amazing things with multi-coloured electrical tape. I thought it was great (that is about as sophisticated as my art criticism gets).
But one of the best things I saw was one of the bare gallery walls which someone had managed to mark with a big bare circle made out of slightly lighter, cracked clay.
The picture above was taken just after most of the Saturday afternoon visitors had left. It looks a little murky because we are going through a very strange mini-rainy season at the moment.
See more Favourite Places in Ethiopia.
Posted by aheavens at October 29, 2006 6:17 AM