Look differently, it’s more than just a stone
By Fanuel Jongwe
ZIMBABWEAN stone sculptures is ubiquitous. One will find a piece perched on a pedestal in a gallery in Auckland, New Zealand, or one perched in a back garden in Seoul, South Korea, on a stoep in Durban or gracing the display cabinet of a celebrity in the United States.
Despite the global popularity of the stone sculpture, there is a dearth of literature detailing the “metamorphosis” of the Zimbabwean stone sculpture from its raw form when it is extracted from the mines up to the time it becomes a finished work of art.
Art critic Caro Williams’ book Journey From the Depth of Zimbabwe published last month by the Harare-based ZimSculpt, comes handy by chronicling the process the stone goes through before it ends up in a gallery, living room or verandah.
The book is based on interviews with various sculptors including Lincon Muteta and Dudzai Mushawepwere who describe the painstaking journey that begins with the artists extracting stones from the mines in Guruve, Nyanga, Domboshava, Concession, Kwekwe, Masvingo and Mutoko.
The next stage is the selection of the most suitable stone from the heap of cobalt, opal, serpentine, lapideolite, verdite and springstone then the transportation, artistic creation, exhibition and appreciation.
“Nearly all of the work is done manually,” sculptor Muteta said in an interview with StandardPlus. “From digging up the stones, separating workable pieces and loading the stones onto trucks. No machinery is used in all that and there is an ever-present risk of getting injured in the process.”
ZimSculpt director Vivienne Prince said at the launch of the book: “The book is not a guide to Zimbabwe, or a collection of biographies or an academic review. These books have already been written. With this book, ZimSculpt asks you to look differently at the stone.”
Vivid black and white photographs by Athol Rheeder complement the text.
Prince who is originally from the UK, fell in love with Zimbabwean sculpture when she saw some artefacts by Zimbabwean sculptors on display in the UK five years ago. She came to Harare in 2000 and since then has been promoting local sculpture at small charitable shows in the United States, gallery exhibitions in the Middle East and major park shows in the UK.