BY SHARON SIBINDI
THE National Gallery of Zimbabwe (NGZ) has invited former British American Tobacco (BAT) Workshop Studio and Mzilikazi Art Centre artists for an exhibition dubbed Beyond The Township Walls that will concurrently run alongside the Harare International Festival of the Arts from April 25 to June 17.
NGZ Bulawayo assistant curator Cliford Zulu said the exhibition that aims to bring together artists who studied at these two art centres, whose works have gone beyond the township walls. The exhibition will be curated by NGZ chief curator Raphael Chikukwa.
“The Beyond the Township Walls exhibition will bring artists who came through these two centres together as a reunification of generations that came through these two centres and two regions,” he said.
“The artists’ humble beginnings and their imagined futures were shaped in the two townships, Mbare in Harare and Mzilikazi in Bulawayo. These two old townships’ history is shaped by the struggle for independence and struggle for cultural expression.”
He said the submission deadline for the exhibition is April 12, adding that artwork selection should be from the work of native artists that are either resident in Zimbabwe or abroad.
“Mzilikazi Art Centre’s contribution to the Zimbabwean art history is immense and cannot go without mentioning for the work that was put by the Bulawayo City Council to establish this grand project is great. It is hoped that the exhibition will contribute to the dialogue of artists through its public programming”, Zulu said.
“The role and function of visual art is underrated and misunderstood. Beyond the Township Walls exhibition is a platform to showcase the talent that this country has. Visual artists continue to carry Zimbabwe’s flag at international exhibitions and art fairs, and most of these artists came from the townships.”
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Zulu said artists who came out of Mzilikazi Art Centre and the BAT Workshop Studio have most of their artworks in the NGZ as permanent collections.
“The stigma of being from the township is what has driven the determination of most of these artists to succeed. Today, these artists are showcasing their artworks in a number of international exhibitions, breaking down the walls,” he said.
“It is through this exhibition that the NGZ will showcase the best that has emerged from these two centres. The successful artworks should be relevant and must speak to issues espoused in the curatorial brief.”
Mzilikazi Art Centre is a Bulawayo City Council project that started way back in the 1990s, while the BAT Workshop Studio is a NGZ project that was launched in the 1980s.