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‘Arts sector full of untapped potential’

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BY TATENDA KUNAKA
VETERAN sculptor Washington Msonza believes the arts sector can immensely contribute to Zimbabwe’s gross domestic product and earn the country foreign currency if government helps artists to penetrate foreign markets.

“Sculpture is a low-hanging fruit, we can acquire the much-needed foreign currency for the country and it can also contribute to the economic growth recovery plan,” Msonza told NewsDay Life & Style.

The Domboshava-born Msonza said government could support the sector by organising exhibitions on behalf of artists through government-to-government initiatives.

“We have many artists who are selling their artifacts all over the world, the government should capitalise on that through organising exhibitions both in the country and abroad,” he said, adding that government could also help them create exhibition places in towns that have many artists.

Msonza believes that revival of the arts sector is key to achieving the goals set in the National Development Strategy 1.

“Artists in Zimbabwe are not appreciated compared to other countries such as in Asia and Europe where they get support. We experience this when we go for symposiums, workshops and exhibitions, we are well treated and well pampered,” he said.

Msonza, who has so far managed to exhibit his artifacts in Canada, Germany, China and Belgium, said he was working from home due to the effects of COVID-19.

“I work from home nowadays. COVID-19-induced lockdowns forced me to do so. After completing my artifacts, I then transport them to Tsindi Gallery where I am based. Business is at an all-time low because I relied mostly on foreign buyers, most countries are beginning to open their airspaces for international travel, which is good, but we find ourselves in the same situation as buyers are sceptical about spending money due to the war in Ukraine,” he said.

Msonza has permanent sculptures displayed at Crib and Krippana museums in Belgium.

Renowned sculptor Albert Mamvura introduced him to the trade in 1988.

“It is now more than 30 years, since I have been doing sculpture. I started with abstract, but now I am doing figurines only,” he said.

Locally he has exhibited at National Arts Gallery, Chapungu and at the now-defunct Mambwe Gallery.

His greatest achievement so far was a top 10 finish out of 56 at Fuzhou International Sculpture Exhibition in China (2016).

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