McEwen’s role as spiritual ‘leader’ and, to some extent, ‘protector’ of the movement continued to the end of his Directorship in 1973. Soon after the initial interest from international collectors and organisations, McEwen sought a new venue for his Workshop School. Fearful of commercial pressures on the young work, he enlisted the help of sculptor, Sylvester Mubayi in establishing a rural community in the powerful environment of the Eastern Highlands of Zimbabwe – the Nyanga district – and named it Vukutu.
In Vukutu, an ancient sanctuary of great beauty and complete isolation, surrounded by sculpture-like rocks, our best artists came to live in an art community. They hunted for pure food according to their belief in life-force. Here they produced their finest work away from the encroaching tourist trade. It was the best move we ever made.
Despite the serious recognition and international success of the sculpture, tensions between Frank McEwen at the National Gallery and the establishment at that time governing Rhodesia continued to grow, eventually forcing him to resign from his post as Director in 1973.