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Sculptors optimistic of improved fortunes

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Sculpture has over the years become one of the most popular forms of art in Zimbabwe and sculptors have spread to various centres throughout the country, including highways, to capture travellers.

Strategically placed at the roadside along Airport Road in Harare is Tsindi Sculpture Gallery which was started by artists who came from other centres to position themselves to attract tourists travelling to and from the airport.

Currently, the centre has over 100 trained and talented sculptors who spend a great part of their daily lives in their overalls, meticulously working on their stones, despite the dust, hopeful for a bright light at the end of the tunnel.

“Business had been very low for a while as tourists had stopped visiting the country due to political reasons, but we thank God for the recent launching of Emirates flights to Zimbabwe because since then business has been picking up significantly,” said talented sculptor Mathew Nakhawale.

Nakhawale started sculpting in 1998 under the mentorship of his uncle, an acclaimed sculptor from the Matombo Gallery, Emmanuel Nakhawale, and since then he has been a full-time artist having exhibited in England several times since 2006.

Another talented artist at the centre is 28-year-old Lovemore Bonjesi who started sculpting in 1998 with the assistance of his late brother Lamek Bonjesi.

Bonjesi, who is a full-time artist, dropped out of school soon after completing his high school because he had no birth certificate or any form of identity to register for examinations.

Bonjesi said he has had the opportunity to exhibit several times at the National Gallery of Zimbabwe and the Czechoslovak Embassy in 2006. The embassy was so impressed with his works that he was given an opportunity to exhibit in the Czech Republic.

He has interestingly carved stone figures inspired by his day-to-day experiences and these include works such as Sharing Secrets, Witness Eye and Reflections of Life amongst others.

“This kind of business has major ups and downs and right now I can’t complain much. At times we have plenty of customers, but sometimes none. When they come we always negotiate prices of the pieces because we have to sell,” said Bonjesi.

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