Of Thomu, Muchena’s charming bird carvings


FAMOUS Chitungwiza Arts Centre sculptors Charles Thomu and Edson Muchena have arguably mastered the art of carving different species of birds.

In their line of work, Thomu has popularised figures of bird species such as sparrows, fish eagles, pot birds and the hornbill, while Muchena is known for his owl carvings.

Muchena, a two-time winner of the Pathfinder Ubuntu awards has acquired proficiency in wood carving on ebony, mukwa and ironwood.

He told NewsDay Life & Style that his owl piece was inspired by the myths associated with the nocturnal bird.

“The world differs in its understanding of the owl. The European communities take owls as omens for good luck and well-being, while in Africa — especially rural communities, an owl is associated with misfortunes,” he said.

Muchena has so far built a beautiful garden display of owls, heads and jewelry.

On the international market, he has exported his owl carvings to France, Netherlands and Romania.

These artefacts are made from varieties of stones such as spring, green opal, fruit and cobalt among others that provide a fine finish.

“I deliberately avoid some hard stones when making my artefacts because they require more energy and materials to cut and polish them,” he said, adding that Mutori quartz from Motoko produced the most beautiful stone artefacts though it required a lot of energy to work it.

“Mutori quartz produces tantalising beautiful finishes while its sparkling nature makes it suitable for indoor displays. Visual art requires a lot of patience and desire to learn. I encourage all those who wish to join the industry to put all their heart and mind to it.”

Meanwhile, Thomu said he preferred  carving  abstracts  to  fine art, motivated by the desire to solicit people’s opinions and reflect on their histories through art.

“Fine art allows people to visualise a similar rendition of the object being brought into picture by a sculpture whereas an abstract is a non-concrete presentation,” he said.

“An abstract is meant to allow conversations and freedom of expression which in turn may inspire more desire to visit sites where the original object can be found.”

In showing his prowess, Thomu mounted several bird species on a huge stone to portray a group of birds in the wilderness.

“Birds’ lifestyle is more inspirational to humans than any other animal as they can easily mix and mingle with other species except for predator birds,” he added.

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