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Guns & Rain

updated more than a year ago
created 29 Jul 2014

Guns & Rain is an innovative startup selling contemporary fine art online by established and emerging southern African artists underpinned by the values of fair, mindful and ethical trade. Art can be shipped globally, or sourced according to request. Zimbabwe-born Guns & Rain founder, Dr Julie Taylor, is a keen believer in the use of technology to bridge global divides and a former Google employee. With an academic background in anthropology and development studies she seeks to use online platforms to tackle Africa's under-representation in the art world.

It couldn't come at a better time - the confluence of social technology platforms, an explosion of artistic production and rocketing interest in the continent. 

The gallery's name Guns & Rain is drawn from a study of then Rhodesia's guerilla war for independence by anthropologist David Lan. The themes explored in his book, of culture, identity, the symbolic and very real ties to land, and struggles for change resonate strongly from the work of Africa's young artists.  

An artist to look out for among the small but growing stable is award-winning Bevan De Wet, who previously won the prestigious ABSA L'Atelier Award. See the Guns & Rain collection on Google Open Gallery and the website for prices. 

Five minutes with Guns & Rain Founder and Director, Dr Julie Taylor

What led you to start Guns & Rain? 
Back in 2008 I went home to Zimbabwe from London where I was based at the time, for a visit. It was a really tough year there and some artists were literally not able to afford to buy food to eat.  On a whim I decided to post some images of artworks on a blog site,  and three works sold overnight to international buyers. I saw that the Internet could potentially change artists' lives.

Where are the Guns & Rain artists based?
Currently in South Africa, Zimbabwe, Botswana and Namibia, but soon to expand to several other African countries too.  Stay tuned.

What determines your choice of artists? 
Generally speaking I'm interested in young emerging artists whose work is socially and/or politically informed.  They all go through a review and selection process, in which I'm assisted by a small selection committee.

Current status of Guns & Rain and plans going forward?
To date (July 2015) there are 15 artists on the Guns & Rain site from across the Southern African region, and I'm delighted that we have so many on board as we celebrate our 'first birthday'.  In its first year, GunsandRain.com has received visits from well over 100 countries, sold art over Skype and Instagram, and brought African artworks to the homes of collectors in New York, Washington DC, San Francisco, Cambridge, London, Geneva, Melbourne, Johannesburg and Cape Town.  My view is that quality is more important than quantity, so I will continue to grow the site slowly and with thoughtfulness and passion.  We have also been part of a range of exciting collaborations,including our first big 'offline' showing, at the annual Turbine Art Fair, in Newtown (July 16-19, 2015).

What has been the most challenging aspect of setting up Guns & Rain?
Ensuring the highest quality packaging, shipping and safety of artworks that are being transported internationally.

What has been the most (pleasantly) surprising aspect of starting Guns & Rain? 
I am tremendously surprised and impressed about just how much creativity and productivity there is in in the visual arts in South Africa, with a wide variety of arts activities and shows all the time. It's hard to keep up - in a good way!

Images by: 

 Admire Kamudzengerere, Papa ShikongeniBevan de Wet,

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