Gallery Delta shuts down

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BY WINSTONE ANTONIO
HOW sad.

Gallery Delta, located at number 110 Livingstone Avenue in Harare, has bowed to sustained economic pressure and closed its doors.

The closure of the gallery after about 29 years of hosting exhibitions is a serious blow to the artists and Zimbabwe’s arts industry at large.

Established in 1975, Gallery Delta had become an important institution in the country’s arts history as a number of prominent Zimbabwean artists launched their careers at the centre.

The gallery used to provide a unique historical, architectural and artistic environment for the presentation and sale of contemporary art.

Most current local visual artists have in one way or the other benefited from the gallery that used to host exhibitions of Zimbabwean paintings, graphics, mixed media sculptures and ceramics.

It has not been business as usual since the death of the gallery founders, Helen Lieros and Derek Huggins, who succumbed to COVID-19 within a week of each other in July last year.

The last exhibition at the gallery was Freedom, which paid tribute in part to Lieros, Huggins and Foundation for Arts and the Humanities.

Before its closure, about three months ago, the gallery’s board of trustees chairman Gregory Shaw said it had become increasingly difficult to sustain the effort and to remain true to the vision of the esteemed gallery founders.

Gallery Delta’s doors have been shut at a time the creative industry is now breathing a sigh of relief and trying to rise from the ashes of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a statement, Shaw confirmed the closure of the gallery.

“We are indebted to our founders, Derek Huggins and Helen Lieros, and to Paul Paul and Colette Wyles for their support during the past three decades,” Shaw said.

“We also acknowledge the support of the patrons, friends of the Gallery Delta and the artists who have been a part of a history that spans almost 50 years and has played out within a rich period of the visual arts of Zimbabwe.”

Shaw said they look forward to seeing what may emerge within the arena of the arts as the future unfolds.

“While the Gallery Delta has closed, the Foundation for the Arts and Humanities under the Gallery Delta name remains, though it is inactive at present and for the foreseeable future.

“I have been honoured to be a part of this institution and am grateful to the Board of Trustees who have served the Gallery Delta Foundation since its creation and thank them for their dedication over the past years,” Shaw indicated.

The closure of the gallery has left a considerable hole within the local artistic community and the Zimbabwean arts industry in general.

Shaw added: “We acknowledge Huggins and Lieros for their extraordinary effort in the creation and development of Gallery Delta. We recognise the role played by Paul Paul and Colette Wiles through the gallery where art and history have intertwined.

“We pay tribute to the great number of artists who have emerged and thrived through the gallery, to those whose careers have flourished beyond our borders, and to those who have remained and participated from within, contributing to the rich Zimbabwean cultural discourse.

“We thank the multitude of patrons, donors and sponsors for their role in supporting and nurturing the arts in Zimbabwe during these years and are synthesis between these parts allowed not only the gallery to breathe, but the arts with all their complexity to exist as a living phenomenon at this space.”

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