In the 1950s Southern Rhodesia – as Zimbabwe was then called under the apartheid regime of Ian Smith, the capital Salisbury (now Harare) was under pressure to educate themselves in European ways and saw the establishment of a University and a National Gallery.
The Gallery enrolled their first Director from the UK, Frank McEwen.
With McEwen’s considerable inspiration and encouragement, a scene of young and talented African stone sculptors started developing in the 60s.Having studied Art History previously at the Sorbonne in Paris, McEwen befriended many sculptors and artists such as Constantin Brancusi, Georges Braque, Henri Matisse and Pablo Picasso. In 1930s Paris he had seen how much ethnic African art inspired modern European painting and sculpture.
In Rhodesia, he wanted to unearth the roots of this art and thus to unleash Africa’s creative potential.
The term ‘Shona Sculpture’ was born.