Walter Mariga carves his distinctive sculptures in the hardest and most beautiful Zimbabwean stones. An internationally exhibited artist, Walter’s apprenticeship with his father Joram Mariga, one of the founders of the Shona sculpting movement, connects him directly to the first generation – and that lineage is evident in his work.
Walter Mariga’s father, Joram (now deceased) is often described as the “father” of Shona sculpture. Walter and his three younger brothers, Daniel (now deceased) Jay and Aaron, all apprenticed with Joram. The Mariga family is originally from Nyanga, a beautiful mountainous region in the eastern region of Zimbabwe near the Mozambique border. While Walter frequently returns to this region to access the remarkable stone that’s available in this area, he lives and works from his home studio in Harare.
Walter, born in 1973, explains that there was no need for him to attend art school as his father was an exceptional mentor encouraging his sons to sculpt in the hardest stones from the outset. At around 12 years old he started “shaping stones” because he admired his father’s work so much.
They were not “real” sculptures, Walter explains, but he was learning to appreciate stone and handle tools. By the age of 17 he was carving full time. Walter began exhibiting his work internationally through the Chapungu Sculpture Gallery at the age of 21. In 1994 he was chosen to participate in a sculpting symposium organized by the Japanese government in Zimbabwe. He worked alongside Japan’s master sculptor Masaji Asaga, sculpting black granite
Walter continues to work in the hardest, and often most colourful stones, depicting a range of subjects – although women and relationships
are a recurring theme. Walter says each of his sculptures imparts a message – whether it’s a comment on society, capturing a human emotion,
communicating with ancestral spirits or celebrating nature.