A Taste of African Culture

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Photo Karen Graham.

For 18 years, Fran Fearnley of ZimArt’s Rice Lake Gallery has travelled across Zimbabwe to purchase stone sculptures from local artists. Inspired by outdoor studio displays of Zimbabwean sculpture, she opened her generous rural property in 2000 for its first annual outdoor exhibition of hand-carved Zimbabwean stone sculptures.

Stone sculpture from Zimbabwe is often called Shona sculpture, named after the largest tribe engaged in this indigenous art movement which relies on local stone which is ideal for carving. Each year raw stone is brought to the gallery to allow visitors and the artist-in-residence to create new sculptures with material that is native to Zimbabwe.

The gallery now represents over 50 Zimbabwean stone sculptors whose works are hand-picked by Fearnley. The items range from table top size to ones requiring mechanical help to install. The gallery’s 18th exhibition runs from August 5th to September 3rd, and over 300 original hand-carved stone sculptures from Zimbabwe will be on display in a two-acre gallery.

Photo Karen Graham.

Each year an artist from Zimbabwe travels to Canada for the summer season as the artist-in-residence, leading sculpting workshops and acting as a cultural ambassador. Artists are selected in part for their range of work but also for their ability to relate to gallery visitors as who are touring the gallery or following his direction in stone carving workshops. Rufaro Ngoma of Harare is this year’s selection, and his works range from representational to semi-abstract forms designed to reflect his African culture.   He calls Harare home, and thanks to Skype technology, communicates almost daily with his wife and three children, which helps him cope with the months away from home.

For a true African cultural experience, drop into the gallery on Saturday, August 5, between 3 and 6 pm for the gallery’s Opening Party. Stroll the outdoor gallery taking in the sculptures, sample African food and enjoy live music provided by an African band. Admission is free. For more information on the gallery’s month long exhibition, visit www.zimart.ca/rls.html. KG

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