BY LIFE & STYLE REPORTER
THE new Arches Art Gallery located at Aberfoyle Estate in Matopos will officially open its doors this Saturday with an exhibition dubbed The Stars Are Bright, which celebrates the work of Cyrene Mission students during the 1940s.
Located about 32km southwest of Bulawayo on the edge of the Matopos, the mission school under the guidance of Canon Ned Paterson (1895-1974) developed an unusual decorative style, recognisable for its lush, broad sweeps of brushwork.
The exhibition’s local director Lisa Masterson said 81 most outstanding pieces by 40 artists would be on display at the exhibition which runs until March 2022.
“After 70 long years, this astonishingly brave and truthful work can now be reunited with the very landscapes that inspired it, which makes for an exciting and emotional homecoming,” Masterson said.
“The Stars Are Bright collection comprises 600 unsold works from exhibitions in the United Kingdom, Europe and the United States from 1947 to 1953, when Paterson departed Cyrene Mission.”
She said the paintings were on loan to hydropower operator NRE from The Curtain Foundation and would also be exhibited in the national galleries in Harare and Bulawayo next year.
“The paintings were rediscovered in 1978, having been kept in storage at a church in London. Going forward, The Arches Art Gallery will function as a multi-use facility for art exhibitions, conferences, workshops and special events like weddings,” Masterson said.
She added that Cyrene Mission produced an astonishing pedigree of black artists, scholars and practitioners.
“Adomech Moyo became the first African teacher of occupational therapy in southern Africa, Livingstone Sango became a prominent taxidermist with the National Museum, William Mariwi became a highly praised artist of religious iconography,” Masterston said.
“Randford Sililo was commissioned to paint three large murals at the Livingstone Museum, while Richard Rachidi became the first qualified black art teacher in his home country. Kingsley Sambo and Samuel Songo both finished school at Cyrene Mission and continued to teach art alongside Paterson for many years.”
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