Peter Makworo has an amazing talent. He was raised by his grandfather and helped him collect fallen branches to burn for coal – with no electricity in most villages around Kenya, the people buy coal on the roadside for cooking. In the forests, Peter learnt to observe birds, their characteristics and movements. Peter started seeing these characteristics in the shapes of the branches he was collecting. He started carving ‘their personalities’, he says.
With no education, or formal training in the art of sculpture, Peter found employment in a large Nairobi house as a ‘Shamba’ (Garden) boy. The job didn’t pay very well and he found he needed supplementary income for his growing family. He started carving again and trying to sell his birds at the local markets.
There is raw beauty in Peter’s work, his ability to capture each bird’s personality, to our eye is beauty in it’s purest and simplest form. Peter found, almost to his surprise, that he was able to sell his carvings at the local markets in Nairobi. Today, Peter lives on the outskirts of Narok, in the Rift Valley, and carves full time. He now also carves bowls (some with little birds sitting on the edge) using the natural shapes of the wood he finds. He chooses to work with natural Olive wood due to it’s intricate grains and colours.
His wife Leona lives between Nairobi and Narok. She sells Peter’s work and keeps the supply of wood flowing to him. Together, they support ten children. Four of their own children, and two grandchildren, two nephews from Peter’s brother, and two nieces from Leona’s sister who passed away.