For decades, the visual arts scene in Kenya has been dominated by artists from Nairobi. But over the recent past, Coastal based painters have quietly made inroads on the capital city's artistic space, displaying their creative muses at various exhibitions.

One of the showcases aptly titled 'Pwani Comes Upcountry' for instance, offered Nairobi's growing circle of art lovers, connoisseurs and potential buyers a glimpse into an explosion of artistic creativity rooted in the coastal port city's cultural heritage.

Colourful acrylic, oil and mixed media paintings articulate incredibly striking themes abound in a seemingly timeless Swahili heritage. The coastal artists' collection of varied creative expressions on canvas, tend to depict historic, rich and deeply embedded Swahili heritage, upon which the current crop of contemporary visual artists draws their inspiration.

One popular style that leaps off most paintings revolves around alluring reflections of the scenic water mass inspired by the expansive Indian Ocean. This element taps into and partially also spawns off the centuries- old wealth of ancient history dotting various parts of Mombasa's old town settlements.

According to Gerard Saby, director Alliance Fran├žaise Mombasa, most of the artists from the region still remain little known beyond the coastal city. "We have been trying to broaden their scope of potential buyers to collectors and gallery owners keen to take on board these artist's fresh perspectives in original paintings. Their artworks immensely differ in conception with the imitational curio art typically sold to tourists," remarks Saby.

A common thread evident on several artists' colour-filled canvases is a realism driven influence of expansive horizons, with choppy waves rippling through the vast ocean. These elements are depicted against a backdrop of either coconut trees, a dipping sunset or sunrise rays.

The Mombasa-based artists include John Solly Savala, Fauzia Volke, Zachariah Kazungu, Castro Osore, James Oluoch aka Skibo, Nosheen Louw, Hassan Athman, Paola Franchi and Rose Savala among others.