Zimbabwe is globally renowned for its stone sculpture art.
As the easing of the lockdown restrictions continues with the opening of borders and air travel, there is a palpable feeling that tourists will not only return in huge numbers but most importantly reconnect with the much sought after original art of stone sculpture.
Collected by celebrities such as African-American filmmaking legend Danny Glover, the stone sculpture has been practiced since the 1960s. At the forefront of the stone sculpting, genre and movement were master sculptors like Henry Munyaradzi, Nicholas Mukomberanwa, and Joseph Ndandarika among others.
And one sector of the economy that Zimbabwe has the confidence of seeing it bouncing back from the effect of Covid 19 is its tourism industry. Leisure tourists mainly from overseas have a strong history of supporting Zimbabwean stone sculpture.
The stone sculpture movement is still vibrant in the southern African nation, and travelers are advised to always put Zimbabwe on their bucket list only to view the masterpieces in permanent exhibitions or home studios. There is also roadside stone sculpture gardens and communities engaging in the beautiful and highly collectible stone artworks.
The opportunities that Zimbabwe can leverage on such as the internationally acclaimed art of stone sculpture, has the potential to attract tourists and boost the country’s economy heavily plundered by the global lockdown.
But which galleries can visitors from outside Zimbabwe diarize on their trip to the southern African country during this festive season of the new normal?
Playing a leading and national role in conveying the stone sculpture story in Zimbabwe is the National Gallery of Zimbabwe. The National Gallery of Zimbabwe is where one can view the country’s stone sculpture artworks. There are three galleries, NGZ Harare, NGZ Bulawayo, and NGZ Mutare, all housing leading and emerging names of the stone sculpture genre.
Tourists can visit the Harare venue of the NGZ to indulge in some of the most fascinating stone art around. The gallery’s garden is spaciously adorned with magnificent collections, with each piece telling a unique story and giving the viewer an insight into the rich traditions of Zimbabwe.
Besides large size stone artworks, visitors also have the opportunity to purchase some smaller pieces to take home as souvenirs, and these are found in the gallery’s shopping area. Centrally located in Harare’s Business District, the gallery is home to a permanent collection.
Occasional stone sculpture exhibitions are organized for group or solo artists and if you’re lucky on your trip you can see works by emerging talents.
Chapungu Sculpture Park in Msasa on the outskirts of Harare is home to a collection of master sculptors as well as the new generation of the genre. Here, the tourist art collector has the leisure to walk around a vast garden with world-class pieces some weighing several tones.
Tengenenge Sculpture Community (#RIP Tom Blomefield) in the farming area of Mvurwi near Guruve, is well worth the 150 km long journey owing to its rich history in the Zimbabwean stone sculpture movement.
Shona Sculpture Gallery is a relatively new venue conveniently located near Robert Mugabe International Airport. A wide range of stone artworks can be viewed in the garden amid a quiet environment.
Chitungwiza Arts Centre, in the city of Chitungwiza, 30 km outside Harare is a community arts haven made up of the new generation and millennial artists including women artists who are making a name alongside their male counterparts.
The above and more are must-visit places for tourists in search of genuine stone sculpture from Zimbabwe. Most of these venues operate throughout the week affording art collectors and lovers convenience to visit.
Source: Nomad Africa Magazine