Close to Home: A Taste Of Africa

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Melodie Seto

Sometimes one does not need to travel long distances to have an immersive cultural experience, and that is especially the case for those living in or near the South Monaghan Township.

Walter Mariga poses beside one of his favourite springstone sculptures entitled The Heart of Caring at ZimArt's Exhibition. Photo: Melodie Seto.

Walter Mariga poses beside one of his favourite springstone sculptures entitled The Heart of Caring at ZimArt’s Exhibition. Photo: Melodie Seto.

ZimArt– Rice Lake Gallery –has been operating in Bailieboro for 16 years and is a free outdoor art gallery that is most recognized for its large collectionof Zimbabwean stone sculptures. Their season of operation from June 1 to Thanksgiving Monday is also packed with many more events from sculpting workshops and concertsto various art-related classesand exhibitions. As traditional Zimbabwean music acts as a backdrop for the imagination, visitors can walk among the featured work of 50 stone carving artists. On warm sunny days, guests can bring a picnic and take the time to absorb the cultural atmosphere that ZimArt creates.

Currently,the gallery is running an exhibition that features the work of this year’s artist in residence, Walter Mariga.

Other art featured at ZimArt (Rice Lake Gallery). Photo: Melodie Seto.

Other art featured at ZimArt (Rice Lake Gallery). Photo: Melodie Seto.

ZimArt work 2

Photo: Melodie Seto.

Each artist has their own unique style. Walter’s sculpted creations breatherespect and appreciation for the natural beauty of each stone, and often, his work includesa part of the rock that is left untouched or “alive”. He believes strongly in allowing the rock to express itself and letting its unique characteristics and properties direct his creative flow.“I do not touch the stone until I can feel it with my heart, then I know I can make a beautiful sculpture.” Marigahas been sculpting since the age of 12, and according to him, the process of creating a sculpturestill takes a long time as each creation is a mental puzzle in which every blow of his hammer and chisel must be planned in advance. He has inherited his skills from his father,JoramMariga, a master sculptor. Walter’s own“mastery of traditional and contemporary forms” has been recognized internationally. With his work exhibited on four continents, Walter stays true to his roots and continues to foster a true appreciation for what he does.Mariga does not like to use power tools as they impede his ability to “feel” the rock. Instead he opts for a simple set of diamond-tipped hand tools, which his body responds to as naturally as if riding a bicycle. Walter loves to teach and pass on his knowledge and skill to others.Visitors have the opportunity to speak with him at the exhibition and even receive a demonstration of his sculpting technique…

For an even more immersive African art culture experience, ZimArt will be hosting a live, pay-what-you-can concert by Zimbabwean music group, Nhapitapi on Saturday, August 22from 5-7pm. For more information on ZimArt go to www.zimart.ca…

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