Country: Kenya • Medium: Wood, plaster
Said Ali Swabu was born and raised in the house of one of Lamu's most distinguished mid-20th century master calligrapher, Hafiz Quran, who was also a talented wood carver and Swahili plaster work craftsman.
The youngest child of Ali Swabu (the prolific craftsman), Said learnt most of his traditional Swahili construction techniques from his father who made sure to pass on his knowledge to his son.
Through an apprenticeship and training at the Swahili Art Centre, and his own ingenuity, Said was able to master the art of wood carving and plaster work at a very tender age. He spent a lot of time in his father's workshop in Lamu's Old Town.
Said went to school in Lamu and then enrolled for a Diploma in Mechanical Engineering at the Mombasa Polytechnic. After completion of his studies he established a workshop in Old Town Mombasa continuing with his family’s tradition of wood carving and plaster work.
Through the years he has worked with a number of architects and well known interior designers from all over Kenya.
Some of his Swahili furniture and plaster work decoration can be seen in five star hotels around East Africa, i.e. at Whitesands Sarova, Leopard Beach Hotel, Pinewoods, and Southern Palm Beach Resort.
In Zanzibar his work is can be seen at Blue Bay, Sultan Sands, and Royal Zanzibar Beach Resort.
The Diani Beach Art Gallery plaster work signs seen on the staircase leading up to the Gallery and next to the entrance are Said’s work.
Recently, Said has been working on designing the interior of his dream house in Lamu, Beyt Salaam (The House of Peace). The house is a showcase of his mastery in art and interior design.