Amazing Paintings with a Story by East African Artist, Avni Shah

“Leap of Faith”


Avni is a leading, multi-disciplinary Kenyan artist whose works depicting East Africa will surprise and also delight you with details and a happy colour palette which are the hallmarks in her work. She brings both realism as well impressionism to the scene.


Below are some of her recent painting with a story behind each artwork


The remains of an earlier house structure dating from the 14th to 17th Century are a rare find and only two such ruins have been found in the coastal town of Lamu. This large traditional stone house must have been owned by a sizeable and wealthy family. Its high style and exceptionally intricate geometric decorative plaster details rivals Zanzibar’s traditions. The last room’s wall often had more than half its surface covered with niches. Wall niches were arched or rectangular and were often used to display pottery and showcase wealth of the owner.


The Maasai are a semi-nomadic people who live under a communal land management system. Ownership of domestic animals and livestock is the centre-stage in the economic life of the Maasai people. Livestock are traded for other livestock, cash or livestock products such as milk and siege. Due to Global Warming, they have migrated from their beloved cattle to goats who are more resilient to higher temperatures and hence are an attractive alternative to the pastoralists. A “Good Sale” is negotiated by the Elders and money is quietly slipped from one hand to another.


These Bahnus are docked at Mombasa’s old harbour in preparation for careening (turning a ship on its side for cleaning and caulking). The Bahnus is a very distinct double-ended Arab dhow that closely resembles the well-known ‘Boum’, which has a stern that is tapering in shape and an overall symmetrical structure. The East African coastline has been one of my most beloved subjects to explore and paint. These wooden ships, used for both fishing and commercial purposes during the ancient times will transport you back to the period when the Sultans of Zanzibar (then, Ugunja) roamed the open seas.


A rogue elephant is usually an old male who has become violent and unpredictable. He is always chased away by the female matriarch to protect her family. The ill-tempered bull will then live a solitary life and will “Charge” anyone and anything that comes in its way, especially anything that he is uncertain of. Be careful if you come across one, especially in the elephant stronghold of Amboseli.


Contact Avni on or call +254 734 973207 if interested in any of the paintings above or to place your custom orders 



She embarked on her art career after her “O” levels. She attained a Teachers Training Diploma in Art Education from the famous Sir J.J. School of Art, Mumbai. She has done many solo and group exhibitions and two in Germany. Her first mentor Keith Harrington inspired her to capture in her paintings what was old before it gave way to the new resulting in exhibitions titled “Mombasa Old Town”, “Opening Doors To Lamu”, “Scenes Of Kenya”. Some of her latest exhibitions include “Shifting Panoramas”, held at the Village Market in September 2019 and “Across East Africa”, held at the UNON in March 2020. She also took part in FOTA at the ISK in November 2019.

She has worked with world renowned architectural mosaic artist Jim Anderson on broken tile mosaics which are displayed at the local hospitals and one in Addenbrookes Hospital in Cambridge, UK.

Some of the highlights of her career have been “Unusual Friends” and “Wonder of the World” depicting adoption of oryx baby by a lioness in Samburu hang at the Mayor of Berlin’s Parlour and the Kenyan Embassy in Berlin respectively. “At the Water’s Edge” was presented to honourable Charles Njonjo at the relaunch of the Yellow Pages Directory.



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