Tag Archives: ben joosten

The man who sculpted twice at a stone

14 Aug

Henry Munyaradzi, sculptor from the first generation

Sculptors from Zimbabwe, the first generation
In 2001 the late Ben Joosten published a book Sculptors from Zimbabwe. This book is a lexicon of the sculptors from the first generation.
Ben Joosten started his research for the book in 1992. He travelled several times to Zimbabwe to speak with the sculptors and to take  pictures of their sculptures. In this way  he met Henry Munyaradzi in 1994 at his home in Ruwa. Henry had just finished a sculpture, which he called: ‘The wedding of the astronauts’ (see Fig. 1).

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Fig. 1 The wedding of the astronauts, sculpted by Henry Munyaradzi (Joosten, 2001: 283)

When you observe  the sculpture, you will see that Henry respected the shape of the stone. He carved minimalistic with incisions in geometric figures. His style looks like the works of Paul Klee, the German of whom Henry Munyaradzi has never had heard.
The faces at the bottom resemble the sculpture Spade Head, sculpted by Henry in 1974.

Description of Henry Munyaradzi

Henry Munyaradzi was born in 1931 in Guruve in the North of Zimbabwe. His father was a spirital medium and left the family when Henry was young. That´s why he was raised  in the family of his nephew Edward Chiwawa and attended  no formal education.
In his youth he herded cattle and hunted  small animals with dogs, spears, bows and arrows. As he grew  older he had a job as a blacksmith and later on as a carpenter and a tobacco-grader. After  he became unemployed  he stumbled across the Tengenenge Sculptor Community in 1967 where  he heard the stone carvers. He thought that he was also capable of doing that and when he met Tom Blomefield he was allowed to try carving.
Henry Munyaradzi was entirely self-taught and became a successful sculptor. Already in 1968 the National Gallery bought a sculpture from him for their collection.
In 1975 he left Tengenenge and went to Chitungwiza where his nephew Edward Chiwawa and Fanizani Akuda lived and sculpted. The situation in Tengenenge got too dangerous during the Liberation War.

After Independence Day in 1980 he did not return to Tengenenge. In 1985 he bought a farm in Ruwa, where he sculpted until his death in 1998.

The Astronaut’s Wedding

Surfing on the internet I saw a picture on Flickr with a sculpture from Henry Munyaradzi, which was called: ‘The Astronaut’s Wedding’ and was sculpted in 1983 (see Fig. 2).

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Fig. 2 The Astronaut’s Wedding, sculpted by Henry Munyaradzi, 1983.

I saw a creation  with the same shape as the sculpture called: ‘The wedding of the astronauts’, but just sculpted at the reverse side.
The photograph was taken in 2007 at the Missouri Botanic Garden, during the exhibition “Chapungu: Nature, Man and Myth”. In my opinion the sculptures ‘The wedding of the astronauts’ and ‘The astronaut’s wedding’ were made on the same stone.

 A unique three-sided sculpture

In order to be convinced I contacted the Missouri Botanic Garden and one of their employees sent me an e-mail with a picture of  the sculpture with the 1994-side. The description of the sculpture´s title  was ‘The Astronaut’s Wedding’ and the year of completion  was 1983.

The employee wrote:
“Meaning: Married on Earth we now explore space together. Note: This sculpture is a unique 3-sided sculpture. The wedding is depicted on one side with blessings indicated by the birds; the preacher is on the narrow side; and the back depicts the couple in a space capsule exploring the heavens”.

This means she describes the 1994-side as the blessings and the 1983-side as the couple, exploring the space.

Typical questions

  1. What was Henry’s intention to sculpt twice at the same stone?
  2. Why was the 1983-side called ‘The Astronaut’s Wedding’ and the 1994-side ‘The wedding of the astronauts’. Had Henry forgotten the original name?
  3. Was the sculpture the property of Henry during the years 1983 until 1994? In 1985 he moved from Chitungwiza to Ruwa. It is sure that the sculpture completed after 1994 was added to the collection of the Chapungu Sculpture Park in Harare (Joosten, 2001:283).
  4. Was the employee of the Missouri Botanic Garden aware that Henry sculpted twice at the sculpture? She describes the year of completion as 1983.

Epilogue 

The employee of the Missouri Botanic Garden describes the 1994-side as the blessings indicated by the birds. Obviously she interprets the circle with the cross as a bird. It is not known whether  this was  also Henry’s intention.
In 1972 he sculpted a small statue , which he called: ‘The Astronaut’ (see Fig. 3).

 

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Fig. 3 The Astronaut, sculpted by Henry Munyaradzi, 1972

On this sculpture the same figure of the circle with the cross is applied. I assume  that Henry sculpted a half-moon and a star on this sculpture. Therefore , I think that Henry misguides the viewer by sculpting stars  on the 1994-side  and not birds. What Henry intended with the 1994-side, we will probably never know because of the fact that he died without giving any written information about the meaning of this work of art.

Maastricht, August 2015

Pierre Swillens

Referenced cite:

Joosten, Ben
2001 Sculptors from Zimbabwe, the first generation. Galerie de Strang, Dodewaard, The Netherlands

 

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Returning to my Sekuru

20 Jul

The Shona belief of the word sekuru in stone

The mening of the word sekuru

In the Shona language the word sekuru has different meanings. Basically it is a word which defines the relationship between members of a family. Besides that, the word is also used for expressing strangers, like an elderly man showing a kind of respect.
In families the word sekuru is used for the paternal or maternal grandfather. This is understandable, these are elderly people. When you are female it is also used for the brother of the mother (uncle) and for his son. This is not so understandable, because even the uncle is treated as a husband. The wife of the uncle is your rival. If you are a male the uncle is your rival, because his wife is treated as your wife. How it will function in practice, I don’t know.

The maternal uncle is also regarded to become a replacement for the mother. He can be asked for advise, when you have a problem, that reaches out of the competence of the mother. That is also a task for the uncle, when the maternal grandfather dies and the eldest sekuru has to take over his role. In that case the mother will call him father.

The function of the sekuru in the Shona culture seems to be very complex and the urge probably has a reason. If you want to read more about the Shona sekuru-relationship, read the article of Chipo Musikavanhu on her blog
http://www.letstalkafrican.blogspot.nl/2013/07/the-shona-peoples-sekuru-relationship.html.

Is sekuru a theme in the Shona stone sculpture movement?

Did the Shona sculptors from the first generation use the theme sekuru within the carving of theirs sculptures? I think it was not a usable theme for the sculptors. I detected only two sculptors, who carved sculptures in relation to the theme sekuru, i.e. the late Joseph Ndandarika and Sylvester Mubayi, two great sculptors of the first generation.

Joseph Ndandarika

Let us start with Joseph Ndandarika. In 1977 he carved a sculpture, which he called: The Midzumu Bull (see picture 1)

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Fig. 1 The Midzumu Bull, sculpted by Joseph Ndandarika, 1977

midzumu is an ancestral spirit in Shona belief. When a sekuru (elder) had died, his spirit would be passed over to a young bull. The spirit would be kept inside the bull, for two years old. After that the bull  was killed. The spirit of the sekuru is then released and united with the spirits of his ancestors.

Joseph Ndandarika realised toexpose this story in one stone. When you look at the figures behind the bull, the outer left one holds the pot, in which the spirit was kept. The middle figures are blowing the spirit into the bull. The outer right figure holds the club to kill the bull afterwards. It is a nice sculpture in green springstone. The sculpture refers to the spirit of the sekuru.

Joseph Ndandarika was born in 1940 from a Malawian father and a Shona mother. His paternal Malawian grandfather had migrated to Zimbabwe long before that and became a highly respected n’anga (witch doctor). Joseph was apprenticed to become a witch doctor too. He spent some time as a neophyte trained to become a young traditional healer (Monda, April 2015). But he converted to Catholicism and went to the Serima Mission. There he joined Father John Groeber who was building a mission and  a church. Father Groeber taught youngsters  painting and sculpture for the decoration of the church. When the church was finished, Joseph Ndandarika went back to his parents in Mutare.
In 1959 Joseph Ndandarika joined the Workshop School of the National Gallery, first for painting, clay-modelling and carving in wood. In 1960 he started with sculpting in stone, when he met Joram Mariga in Nyanga. He became a well-known sculptor.

Joy Kuhn wrote in her book ‘Myth and Magic’ (1978) that she had an interview with Joseph Ndandarika. He told her his beliefs when he was sculpting in his early days. He referred to his Malawian grandfather, the n’anga, and told herthat the grandfather had a story:
“He used to go home to Malawi in ten minutes time to fetch a fish from there (…).  He went on  the bird, the manjojo bird. That bird was magic and my grandfather could ride on him”.
And Joseph sculpted an old man with a pointed head , riding on a bird (1978:83).

Joseph Ndandarika had a profound respect for his sekuru.

Sylvester Mubayi

Sylvester Mubayi made a sculpture in 1997, which he called: ‘Returning to my Sekuru’ (see Fig. 2). It is a nice sculture in springstone, representing a man with a child. This is a clear reference to the sekuru. Why Sylvester Mubayi used this theme is unknown, but there could be a reason, which I will explain later.

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Fig. 2 Returning to my Sekuru, sculpted by Sylvester Mubayi, 1997 (Joosten, 2001:275)

Sylvester Mubayi was born in 1942 in the Chiotah reserve near Marondera in the North Eastern Zimbabwe. In 1966 he was looking for a job and he met Tom Blomefield, who just had started with the Tengegenenge Sculptor Community. He joined Tom Blomefield and became one of the leading sculptors in Tengengenge. But not for long. In 1968 he went to the Workshop School in Harare. The Workshop School was founded by Frank McEwen, director of the Rhodes National Gallery.

Frank McEwen made Sylvester Mubayi his leading sculptor. He rated him as a greater sculptor than Henri Moore (Zilberg, 2006:n.p.).

After Independence in 1988 Sylvester Mubayi had a One Man Exhibition in the Francis Kyle Gallery in London. In a review of this exhibition Michael Sheperd of the Sunday Telegraph wrote as follows:

“Now that Henri Moore is dead, who is the greatest living stone sculptor? When I were to choose, I would choose from three Zimbabwean sculptors – Sylvester Mubayi, Nicholas Mukomberanwa and Joseph Ndandarika” (Mawdsley, 1997).

Also in 1991 The Guardian (U.K.) voted Sylvester Mubayi as one of the top 10 sculptors in the world (Monda, June 2015).

Did Sylvester Mubayi create the sculpture ‘Returning to my Sekuru’ after a statement, made by Joseph Ndandarika 

Joseph Ndandarika was a well-known sculptor and became a wealthy man.Tony Monda wrote that he met Joseph Ndandarika in 1989 for an interview and the latter spoke to him with the words: “I am the great Shona sculptor Ndandarika – who are you”? (Monda, April 2015). That was two years before his death. Joseph Ndandarika died tragically in 1991, barely 50 years old.

Just before his death, he is alleged to have spoken these words:

I am now wealthy and famous, but I am dying.

At last my spirits call me back to my remote childhood village.

There my sekuru receives me  with such compassion and gentleness,

that I weep on his lap.

Could these words have been the reason for Sylvester Mubayi to sculpt the sculpture ‘Returning to my Sekuru’ in 1997? It seems to be a fact, a child on the lap of an old man.

Someone had the knowledge of this, then he or she puts the words of Joseph Ndandarika and the stone of Sylvester Mubayi together in a picture (see Fig.3).

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Fig. 3 Returning to my Sekuru

This closes the circle. Two great sculptors expressed their respect for the sekuru, the paternal grandfather, in words and stone.

Maastricht, July 2015
Pierre Swillens

Cited references:

Joosten, Ben
2001 Sculptors from Zimbabwe, the first generation, Galerie de Strang
Dodewaard The Netherlands

Kuhn, Joy
1978 Myth and Magic, The Art of the Shona of Zimbabwe., Don Nelson, Cape Town

Mawdsley, Joceline
1997 Chapungu: The Stone Sculptures of Zimbabwe, Harare: Chapungu

Monda, Tony
April 2015 Joseph Ndandarika – (1940-1991) … the n’anga who became a famous shona sculptor
June 2015 The last lion of Zimbabwe stone sculpture

Musikavanhu, Chipo
July 2015 THE SHONA PEOPLE’S RELATIONSHIP EXPLAINED

Zilberg, Jonathan
2006 The Frank McEwen Collection of Shona Sculptures in the British Museum

Sculptors from Zimbabwe (part 2)

9 Mei

Using the owl as symbol

Preface

Jonathan Zilberg PhD attended me on the book Myth and Magic, The Art of the Shona of Zimbabwe, written by Joy Kuhn and published in 1978. It is one of the first publications of books about the Zimbabwean Stone Sculpture, starting in the 60s and 70s [Note 1].

Myth and Magic. The Art of the Shona of Zimbabwe

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I searched on the Internet for this book and I found a used copy of this book for an acceptable price (Fig 1), from someone in Scotland. When I received it, I discovered that it looks and smells like an old book. Despite this I am very delighted with the book.
Joy Kuhn is not a professional art scientist, but she has had spent a substantial part of her life in Central and South Africa. The book contains a lot of photos of sculptors in the late 60s and early 70s. Unfortunately, in the book, she mentioned the names of the sculptors in the manner they were used at that time, i.e. only by first name. In the case of ‘Henry’ it is not a problem. She meant the late Henry Munyaradzi. But the reference of the artist’s name ‘Ndale’ arises some questions. By looking it up in the lexicon Sculptors from Zimbabwe by Ben Joosten (2001) I found out that the sculpture belongs to the late Ndale Wile, a Malawian, who sculpted at the Tengenenge Sculptor Community.

Likewise, the sculptor’s name ‘Matere’ or ‘Matera’ may not be known instantly. This name belongs to the sculptor Bernard Matemera. Even Bernard Matera used that name in this period, unless it is a misspelling from Joy Kuhn. She also didn’t mention the year in which the sculptures were produced.

In spite of these minor objections the book is useful, because she interviewed a lot of sculptors from the first generation. In this way we get an insight in the beliefs, motivation and thoughts of the sculptors during the sculpting.

 

Fig. 1 Cover of the book Myth and Magic

Using owls as a symbol in sculpting

Joy Kuhn talked to the, meanwhile, deceased Bernard Takawira. He explained to her how animals can influence sculptors in their work.
Bernard Takawira was a member of the Nyatate sculptor group around Joram Mariga. His brothers John, Patrick and Lazarus were also sculptors.  Bernard Takawira was born in 1948 and belongs to the Shona people. He was one of the twenty-four children in his family.
He followed the primary and the secondary school and received a degree in agriculture at the Mlezu Agricultural College.
He saw his older brother John carving in stone.  In 1968 he started sculpting himself. Frank McEwen, Director of the Rhodes National Gallery, saw his pieces of art and convinced him that he would be a good sculptor (Joosten 2001, 134)

Bernard Takawira told Joy Kuhn:

Owls, though, the Shona fear them. They are always associated with witchcraft. For we believe that women, in particular, can be transformed into animals –   then creep into your house  and sit on you, so you wake up feeling sick. First the owl – then, the hyena, then the ant-eater, then, the bat. If the mongoose crosses your path  you know that where you are going things are not right. It is better, then, to go home. And if you see a chameleon digging, it is bad; you will get sad news, particularly about death…..(Kuhn 1978, 14) [Note 2].

Ephraim Chiruka

The sculptor on the cover of the book Myth and Magic, is Ephraim Chiruka (see Fig. 1). He called his sculpture a Huge Owl [Note 3]. He was a nephew of Chimbewere, the Chief whose spirit guards the sculpture village of Tengenenge (Kuhn 1978, cover).

Ephraim Chiruka says about the stone

She – this woman – is changing into an owl. Your mind goes like that if you are carving stones…(Kuhn 1978, 49)

Ephraim Chiruka provided his sculpture with women’s breasts. The breasts of a witch, he said.

He was born in 1940 in the Guruve area and belongs to the Shona people.  He started sculpting in 1966 in the Tengenenge Sculptor Community. His favourite theme was horses, because they reminded him of old people who use horses for transport to move their goods from one place to another (Joosten 2001, 165/166).

The  Huge Owl was not the only owl which Ephraim Chiruka sculpted. He carved a bewitched owl as well which he called Owl Woman (Fig. 2).

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Fig. 2 Owl Woman, sculpted in 1969 by Ephraim Chiruka (Joosten 2001, 167)

And he sculpted also a normal owl (Fig. 3)

scannen0005-cs2Fig. 3 Owl, sculpted by Ephraim Chiruka, year of production unknown (Kuhn 1978, 58).


Henry Munyaradzi

There are also owls carved without signs of the spirits of witchcraft, like the owl of Henry Munyaradzi. This is rather an elegant sculpture of an owl. Unfortunately, the year of production is not known.
Henry Munyaradzi was born in 1931 in the Guruve district. He belonged to the Shona people. His father left the family when Henry was a young child, so Henry got no formal education.
He raised up in the family of his nephew Edward Chiwawa. As a youth Henry herded cattle. In 1968/1969 he started sculpting in Tengenenge. He is auto didactic and became successful immediately.
In 1975, due to the Liberation War, it became too dangerous in Tengenenge. Henry moved with his family to Chitungwiza.
In 1985 he bought a farm in Ruwa, east of Harare, where he died in 1998 (Joosten 2001, 283).

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Fig. 4 Owl sculpted by Henry Munyaradzi (Kuhn 1978, 59)

Edward Chiwawa

Edward Chiwawa was born in 1935 in the Guruve district. He belongs to the Shona people. He is a nephew of Henry Munyaradzi. He saw his nephew during the act of sculpting. He started sculpting himself in Guruve in 1970. He was taught by Wilson Chikawa. He brought his sculptures to Tengenenge to sell them.
In 1975, due to the Liberation War, Tengenenge was closed and in Guruve it became too dangerous, so Edward moved with his family to Harare, to join Tom Blomefield. After the war ended Edward did not return to Guruve. He now lives in Chitungwiza and is still sculpting (Joosten 2001, 175/176).
In my first  paper Sculptors from Zimbabwe (part 1), I mentioned that I met Edward Chiwawa last year in the sculpture garden Beeldentuin Maastricht – Heerdeberg in the Netherlands. Around 1988 he sculpted an owl (Fig. 5). This owl has been exposed in the collection of the Afrika Museum, Berg en Dal, the Netherlands.

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Fig. 5 Owl, sculpted by Edward Chiwawa, c 1988, (Joosten 2001, 177)

Dofe Khoreya
Another owl is the owl sculpted by the sculptress Dofe Khoreya (Fig. 6).This is an owl in modern art, totally abstract. The owl is recognizable by the beak. The year of production is about 1968. The sculpture belongs to the collection of the Afrika Museum, Berg en Dal , the Netherlands.
I don’t know what the sculptress wants to express with the holes in her piece of art. My interpretation is that both the upper holes are wings and the lower holes are paws. Has someone got another idea of the meaning of these holes? A hiding place for spirits could also be a possibility.
Dofe Khoreya was born about 1939 in Malawi. She married Bauden Khoreya, also a successful sculptor. They have one son Harry, who is also a sculptor. Bauden and Dofe started in 1968 with sculpting in Tengenenge. Dofe was one of the few women, who sculpted. In that time sculptors thought that women could only help by polishing the sculptures men produced. The family lived in the Tengenenge Sculptor Community until 1976 (Joosten 2001, 212-215).

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Fig. 6 Owl, sculpted by Dofe Khoreya, c 1968, (Joosten 2001, 214)

Moveti Manzi

Moveti Manzi is a sculptor of the second generation. He was born on the first of January 1960 in Centenary. His father Josiah Manzi was also a successful sculptor. The parents of Josiah Manzi moved from Malawi  to Zimbabwe in 1918. His mother Jenet Manzi is a sculptress.
Josiah started sculpting in the Tengenenge Sculptor Community in 1966, Jenet started there in 1968.
Josiah sculpted print stones as well. So did Moveti Manzi when he was a boy. In 1997 three print stones were found in the mud in Tengenenge, two belonged to Josiah, and one to Moveti. The last one is saved in the Tengenenge Museum in Dodewaard, the Netherlands (Joosten 2001, 338).
From Moveti Manzi an owl is exhibited for selling in the sculptor garden Beeldentuin Maastricht – Heerdeberg, the Netherlands (Fig. 7).

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Fig. 7 Owl, sculpted by Moveti  Manzi, photo: Pierre Swillens

Epilogue

Jonathan Zilberg devoted in his dissertation, as mentioned in note 1, a chapter on “Spirits in Stones” referring to the belief in spirits of the Shona People. He cited Joy Kuhn’s book Myth and Magic, when she expressed, after interviews with the sculptors Sylvester Mubayi, Nicholas Mukomberanwa and Joseph Ndandarika, their belief  in spirits. They stipulated that they converted this belief in their stones (Zilberg 1996, 167 – 176).

Shona sculptors feared the spirits of animals, like the owl, the hyena, the ant-eater and the bat. Especially the spirits of the owls, who – according to them – practiced their witchcraft on women.

In Athens the Greece people endowed the owl with wisdom, the Shona in Zimbabwe endowed it with witchcraft.

Maastricht, march 16,  2015

Pierre Swillens

Notes

1. Jonathan Zilberg received his doctorate of Philosophy in Anthropology in 1996 in the Graduate College of the University  of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign with the dissertation Zimbabwean Stone Sculpture. The Invention of a Shona Tradition. Before and afterwards he wrote many publications about this subject. He is one of the few scientists who made their publications fully accessible for everyone.

2. Olga Sicilia found this aspect so important that she cites this passage out of Kun’s book in her dissertation There is No Such Thing As a Spirit in the Stone. , Misrepresentation of Zimbabwean Stone (Sicilia 2009, 96).

3. The titles given to sculptures are often arbitrary, are often made up by dealers or writers. The artists themselves can change the names  of the titles depending on whatever they think that the buyer or photographer wants to hear (communication Zilberg).

 Cited References

Joosten, Ben
2001 Sculptors from Zimbabwe, the first generation, Galerie de Strang, Dodewaard, the Netherlands
Kuhn, Joy
1978 Myth and Magic, The Art of the Shona of Zimbabwe, Don Nelson, Cape Town
Sicilia, Olga
2009 There is No Such Thing As a Spirit in the Stone, Misrepresentation of Zimbabwean Stone (diss.)
Zilberg, Jonathan
1996 Zimbabwean Stone Sculpture, The Invention of a Shona Tradition (diss.)

Sculptors from Zimbabwe (part 1)

5 Mei

My first experience with the study of the Zimbabwean stone sculpture during the period 1950 – 1980

Beeldentuin Maastricht – Heerdeberg

In the neighbourhood of Maastricht in the Netherlands, the city where I live, there is  a sculpture garden, called Beeldentuin Maastricht – Heerdeberg. The owner of this sculpture garden is Mrs. José de Goede, a former auctioneer and assessor of art and antiques. She has a long time experience in exhibiting and selling Zimbabwean stones in galleries. Almost every year she travels to Zimbabwe in order to buy sculptures directly from the sculptors. She knows the sculptor and their families very well and she invites them, like the (late) Bernard Matemera and Edward Chiwawa, to give workshops in her sculpture garden.

The sculpture garden is in the vicinity of a marl quarry. The quarry forms the outline. The sculptures are partly arranged on banks near the border of the quarry and partly in a natural garden (Fig. 1a + 1b).

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Fig. 1a Group of sculptures near the border of the quarry

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Fig. 1b Group of sculptures in a natural garden

 José de Goede is very committed with the sculptors in Zimbabwe. She founded the Bernard Matemera Foundation. With help of this foundation she is building schools for children in Zimbabwe and supports the families of sculptors, who run out of income by occasion.
As I mentioned before, she invites well-known sculptors from Zimbabwe in her sculpture garden to give workshops. Last year she welcomed Edward Chiwawa with his son McCloud and another junior sculptor to teach in her sculpture garden.

Book ‘Sculptors from Zimbabwe’ by the late Ben Joosten

This book is published in 2001 by Galerie de Strang, Dodewaard, the Netherlands, and holds a lexicon of all the sculptors of the first generation.

The lexicon is divided into five sections, with sculptors from the:

– Cyrene Mission, headed by Canon Edward Paterson;
– Serima Mission, headed by Father John Groeber;
– Workshop School in Harare, headed by Frank McEwen;
– Nyanga Group, headed by Joram Mariga;
– Tengenenge Sculptor Community, headed by Tom Blomefield.

 Ben Joosten was a very conscientious man, he got his information on the stands. As far as he managed to research, he mentioned from each sculptor his bibliography , his exhibitions and the collections, as well as where his of her sculptures are saved. So  if you have to look up some information about a sculptor from the first generation , you will find this in the book. Will someone ever write such a book about sculptors of the second generation?

Mrs. José de Goede donated me, as Ambassador of the Beeldentuin Maastricht-Heerdeberg the book of Ben Joosten and from that moment on I started my study of the development of the Zimbabwean stone sculpture in the period 1950 – 1980.
Studying the book of Ben Joosten I questioned myself: “Are there any sculptures of sculptors from the first generation in the Beeeldentuin Maastricht-Heerdebeerg?”

Bernard Matemera

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 First of all a sculpture from the late Bernard Matemera. Mrs. José de Goede told me, that Bernard Matemera sculpted twice in her backyard in the Netherlands before his death in 2002. I could not believe that the famous Bernard Matemera, one of the best real Shona sculptors, would sculpt in a backyard in Holland. Mrs. José de Goede assured me that Bernard Matemera was a gentle man, who always kept his word.

Unfortunately he died at a young age (56 years). He was such a remarkable man, that  I will spent more honour to him at a later moment in my stories.
The sculpture from Bernard Matemera in the sculpture garden Beeldentuin Maastricht-Heerdeberg is a self-portrait and for a long time it has been the property of Mrs. José de Goede (Fig. 2)

Fig. 2 Self-portrait, sculpted by Bernard Matemera

If you look at the sculptures from the sculptors of the first generation, then you will see that most of them had a gimmick or a trademark. So didUnnamed image (62) Bernard Matemera. When he sculpted a person, he always sculpted three fingers on each hand and three toes on each foot. That story is not unlikely. I found on the internet that slightly north of Zimbabwe there is an isolated tribe, called the Doma People. Most of them have only two toes, the outer toes. The toes are developed in a V-shape and people called them ostrich-feet. The two toes are caused by a genetic defect.
Bernard Matemera must have been aware  of that and sculpted all his human figures with three fingers and three toes. That is his trademark (Fig. 3).

Fig.3 Family, sculpted by Bernard Matemera (1987)

Fanizani Akuda

Another sculptor from the first generation I  found in the sculpture garden Beeldentuin Maastricht-Heerdeberg was Fanizani Akuda. When Mrs. José de Goede went to Zimbabwe she met Fanizani Akuda and his wife (Fig. 4).

m_Unnamed image (49)Fig. 4 Mrs. José de Goede (right) meets Fanizani Akuda and his wife

Fanizani Akuda always kept his best stones for her, when she met him for buying stones. Unfortunately Fanizani Akuda died on February 5, in 2011.
Fanizane Akuda was born in 1932 in Zambia. In 1946 he went to Zimbabwe for a job. In 1967 he arrived in the Tengenenge Sculptor Community and asked Tom Blomefield for a job. Tom Blomefield gave him the job of digging stones for the sculptors. Some day he asked Fanizani Akuda to try sculpting, but the latter refused because he was afraid that by sculpting small stone splinters would get in his eyes.
After a short time Fanizani Akuda changed his mind and when Tom Blomefield repeated  his offer, he accepted the tools for sculpting. In a short ime he became a successful sculptor (Joosten, 2001:153).

Fanizani Akuda also had a trademark. He had a lot of humour and when he sculpted a person he always sculpted closed eyes. He wanted to illustrate prevention that the person might get  stone splinters in his eyes (fig. 5).

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Fig. 5 Small stones , sculpted by Fanizani Akuda and exhibited in the sculpture garden Beeldentuin Maastricht-Heerdeberg

When Fanizani Akuda grew older he sculpted only small sculptures,  like Whistlers. The mouths of this whistlers were made with a bit and he sculpted blown cheeks (see Fig. 5). I wrote that he had a lot of humour. I read a story he told someone. When you strike with your finger over the mouth of the whistler, then you hear a sound. I tried this with the small whistler in Fig. 5 , but I did not hear a sound. Perhaps I did not strike in the right way.

Edward Chiwawa

Another sculptor from whom you will find sculptures in the sculpture garden Beeldentuin Maastricht – Heerdeberg is Edward Chiwawa. He was  born in Guruve (Zimbabwe) in 1935 and he belongs to the Shona people. He started sculpting in Guruve. He brought his sculptures to  a stand in the Tengenenge Sculptor Community. There was also his four years older nephew Henry Munyaradzi sculpting.  In 1979 the situation in Guruve was dangerous due to the War of Liberation. Edward Chiwawa moved with his family to Harare. He now lives  in Chitungwiza (Joosten, 2001: 175).

I had the opportunity to meet Edward Chiwawa in the sculpture  garden Beeldentuin Maastricht – Heerdeberg, where he sculpted and gave  workshops with his son McCloud (Fig. 6).

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Fig. 6  Edward Chiwawa daily sculpting in the sculpture garden Beeldentuin Maastricht – Heerdeberg

Mrs. José de Goede told me, that every morning at 9.00 am she heard Edward Chiwawa being busy with sculpting and he did not end until 8.00 pm.

Edward Chiwawa had also a trademark. He mostly sculpted  Moon heads, with  the same face. When he made a frame around the sculpture he called it a Sun head, always the same faces. He  also made a complete  ball with that face, and he called it Moon ball.

I bought two small sculptures made by Edward Chiwawa and he was so nice to add his signature under a stone . He was also willing to pose for a photo with me and my wife (Fig. 7)

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Fig. 7 Edward Chiwawa posing with me and my wife.

When I asked Edward Chiwawa  the titles of the stones we just had bought, I thought  he said Moonjets. When I told this to Mrs. José de Goede, she said “Edward doesn’t speak English very well, he means Moon heads”.

Below illustrations of the Sun- and Moon heads from Edward Chiwawa (Fig. 8a + 8b)

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Fig. 8a Edward Chiwawa showing a Moon head

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Fig. 8b Rising Sun Head, sculpted by Edward Chiwawa

Epilogue

So I will end my first impression of the start of my study of the Zimbabwean Stone Sculpture in the period 1950 – 1980. My paperwork will not be scientific, because I am not a scientist. But it will be an expression of my true believe in the development of African Art, especially stone sculpting, in a short period in Zimbabwe.

I will try to find out the  circumstances when this development took place and who were the participants taking  part in this. At the end I hope to get an answer about the question: “Was the Shona stone sculpting in Zimbabwe authentic and what was their value for the Art World”.

As I am prejudiced in favor of a positive answer on this question I will sometimes be  contrary to the common opinions of the scientists about this matter. I hope they do not mind it.

As Ambassador of the sculpture gallery Beeldentuin Maastricht – Heerdenerg I shall not hesitate to stipulate their role in the  development of the Zimbabwean stone sculpture.

Maastricht, February 16, 2015

Pierre Swillens

REFERENCE
Joosten, Ben
2001 Sculptors from Zimbabwe, the first generation, Galerie de Strang,

Intermezzo

27 Aug

Stones from Zimbabwe

dofe_khoreya-2

Dofe (Agnes) Khoreya (1939) is een van de weinige beeldhouwsters in steen, die werkzaam waren in de Tengenenge Sculpture Community van Tom Blomefield.  De beeldhouwers verwachtten dat de vrouwen alleen werkzaamheden bij het polijsten van de beelden konden verrichten. Het kappen van beelden was er niet bij. Voor de rest moesten ze voor de kinderen zorgen.
Dofe Khoreya is getrouwd met de beeldhouwer Bauden Khoreya en haar zoon Harry, uit een eerder huwelijk, is ook beeldhouwer. Zij had geen opleiding in beeldhouwen genoten, maar ontwikkelde snel een eigen stijl.

In 1968 beelhouwde zij onderstaand beeld. De vraag is nu: “Wat stelt het beeld voor?” Hebben jullie een idee, laat het even weten. Meerdere inzendingen (pogingen) zijn toegestaan. De oplossing is niet zo moeilijk.

Professionals, die het antwoord reeds weten, wordt gevraagd om hier even mee te wachten. Het gaat erom, hoe een onbevangen toeschouwer tegen het beeld aankijkt en wat hij of zij daarin ziet. Mogelijk kunnen zij straks wel meehelpen met het interpreteren van de betekenis van de uitsparingen (meaning of the holes) in het beeld.

(bron ‘Sculptors from Zimbabwe’, geschreven door Ben Joosten)

Pierre Swillens

dofe_khoreya-1

 

Sculptors from Zimbabwe (deel 4)

24 Aug

the first generation

een gevoelig verlies

Inleiding

Op 5 februari 2011 plaatste José de Goede op haar weblog een bericht met als kop: ‘Onze lieve kunstenaar Fanizani Akuda is vanmorgen overleden’. Daarbij plaatste ze onderstaande foto. José heeft kennelijk vaak contact gehad met Fanizani Akuda. Met een respect dat wederzijds gold, want Fanizani Akuda bewaarde mooie beelden voor haar, als ze weer eens inkopen deed in Zimbabwe.

De mens Fanizani Akuda intrigeerde mij en het leek mij een uitstekend idee om met hem de serie ‘Sculptors from Zimbabwe’ af te sluiten. Temeer omdat Fanizani Akuda een van de representanten van ‘the first generation’ van de beeldhouwers in steen van Zimbabwe was.

Foto A
José bezoekt de familie Akuda in Zimbabwe.

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Necrologie van Fanizani Akuda

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Traditioneel gebruik ik als voornaamste bron: Sculptors from Zimbabwe, geschreven door Ben Joosten. Hier en daar aangevuld met wetenswaardigheden, die ik op internet tegenkwam.

Fanizani Akuda werd in 1932 geboren in Zambia. Hij behoorde tot de Chewa stam. In 1949 ging hij voor werk naar Guruve in Zimbabwe. Hij nam alle werk aan, dat zich voordeed,  en was achtereenvolgens katoenplukker, korvenvlechter en baksteenvormer.

In 1967 kwam hij terecht bij Tom Blomefield, die net met zijn Tengenenge Sculpture Community was begonnen. Fanizani Akuda moest er voor zorgen, dat de kunstenaars over stenen konden beschikken om deze te bewerken. De stenen waren in een nabije mijn voldoende voorhanden.
Tom Blomefield vroeg hem om ook te gaan beeldhouwen, maar daar trok Fanizani Akuda niet aan, want hij was bang, dat hij bij het kappen steensplinters in zijn ogen kon krijgen.

Kennelijk heeft hij zich later bedacht, want toen een van de kunstenaars uit de Community vertrok, vroeg Fanizani Akuda aan Tom Blomefield of hij de vrijgevallen plaats mocht innemen. Tom Blomefield had hier al rekening mee gehouden, want het gereedschap, dat de kunstenaar had achtergelaten, werd aan Fanizani Akuda overhandigd.

akuda-4Fanizani Akuda bleek inderdaad over talenten voor het beeldhouwen in steen te beschikken en ontwikkelde zich al snel tot een succesvol kunstenaar. Tot 1979 bleef hij in Tengenenge. Toen werd de situatie ter plaatse gevaarlijk door de uitgebroken bevrijdingsoorlog. Tengenenge werd zelfs gesloten.

Met Tom Blomefield en een aantal kunstenaars vertrok hij naar Harare. Na het einde van de bevrijdingsoorlog (1980) hervatte Tom Blomefield in Tengenenge de Sculpture Community. Hij vroeg Fanizani Akuda om naar Tengenenge terug te keren, maar deze weigerde. Zijn kinderen gingen in Harare naar school en hij was bezig om er een nieuwe vrienden- en relaties-kring op te bouwen.
Fanizani Akuda kon van het beeldhouwen leven. Hij ging in Chitungwiza wonen (tevens de woonplaats van Edward Chiwawa). Hij woonde royaal, maar verlangde wel eens eens naar Tengenenge, omdat hij daar meer ruimte had voor zijn beelden en onbewerkte stenen, terwijl de stenen daar rijkelijk voorhanden waren.

Fanizani Akuda was een echte familieman. Hij had met zijn vrouw Erina zeven kinderen. Hij stond erop, dat deze kinderen een goede schoolopleiding kregen. Hijzelf had er altijd spijt van gehad, dat hij maar een beperkte schoolopleiding had genoten.

Op 5 februari 2011 kwam een einde aan zijn werkzaam leven.

Foto B
Fanizani Akuda met zijn vrouw Erina en het beeld ‘Whistler’

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Beelden van Fanizani Akuda

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Fanizani Akuda’s stijl onderscheidde zich doordat hij zijn beelden volledig afwerkte, nergens was de steen nog ruw of ongepolijst. Vaak zag je dat hij twee hoofden naast of boven elkaar beitelde. Daarin zag je de vorm van de steen, die hij bewerkt had.

Zoals gezegd, was Fanizani Akuda een familieman. Het beeld op foto A en op de foto, waarop hij met hetzelfde beeld staat, was volgens hem een zelfportret van hemzelf en van zijn vrouw. Hij noemde het beeld ‘Always Together’

Het beeld hierboven noemde hij ‘Happy Family’ en dit had zeer zeker met zijn familie te maken.

Wanneer hij gezichten in zijn beelden maakte, dan hadden deze ronde ogen met in het midden een smalle streep. De ogen waren volgens hem gesloten, omdat de beelden bang waren, dat er bij het kappen steensplinters in hun ogen kwamen. Kennelijk baseerde hij zich hierbij op zijn eigen ervaring.

In het begin hadden zijn beelden met gezichten nog een smalle mond, maar later vormde hij de mond via een boorgat. Hij noemde die beelden ‘Whistler’ of  ‘Whistling Head’.

Op foto B zie je een beeld ‘Whistler’, dat hem kennelijk dierbaar was, want hij hield het in zijn eigen collectie.

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Naarmate hij ouder werd, namen zijn krachten af en maakte hij geen grote beelden meer. Hij beperkte zich voornamelijk tot ‘Whistlers’. Het woord ‘flierefluiter’ zal hij wel niet gekend hebben, maar die intentie voor zijn beelden had hij wel.  Hij was niet van humor gespeend en verwachtte, dat als je met je duim over het boorgat streek er een geluid uit kwam. Zo had ieder beeld zijn eigen geluid.
Het verhaal over het strijken met de duim over het boorgat vond ik op de website http://www.friendsforeverzimbabwe.com. Fanizani Akuda behoorde tot de Friends Forever, dus het waarheidsgehalte kan groot zijn. Om de gegevens van Fanizani Akuda te vinden, klik op de genoemde website op de button ‘Artists’ en zoek naar de naam Fanizani Akuda. Dat zal niet zo moeilijk zijn, want die staat als eerste.

Aan het beeld hierboven zie je, hoe de vorm van de onbewerkte steen er oorspronkelijk heeft uitgezien.

Epiloog

m_IMG_8373-cs2Ook nu nog is er een ‘Whistler’ van Fanizani Akuda in de beeldentuin Maastricht-Heerdeberg te bewonderen. Ik wil dan ook eindigen met een foto van dit beeld. De fluiter heeft bolle wangen van het fluiten.

Zodra ik er weer kom, dan zal ik zeker over het boorgat strijken om te horen wat voor geluid dit beeld maakt.

 

 

Jammer dat Fanizani Akuda er geen beelden meer aan kan toevoegen.

Bekijk ook onderstaande fotogalerij.

Pierre Swillens

 

Fotogalerij

Sculptors from Zimbabwe (deel 3)

10 Aug

the first generation,

een bijzondere ontmoeting met een bijzondere man

Inleiding

Als je de beeldentuin Maastricht-Heerdeberg bezoekt, dan liggen de verhalen voor het oprapen. Zo ook op 5 augustus jl. Wij kochten bij José twee mooie beeldjes. José vertelde, dat de kunstenaar voor de beeldjes kobalt steen had gebruikt, een zeldzame steen met mooie kleurschakeringen.
Bovendien vertelde ze, dat de kunstenaar zelf op de beeldentuin aanwezig was.  Zijn naam is Edward Chiwawa, een van de nog weinig levende kunstenaars, die worden aangeduid als behorend tot ‘the first generation’ van Zimbabwaanse beeldhouwers in steen. Een ontmoeting met hem was te arrangeren, een kans die wij ons niet voorbij lieten gaan.

Ontmoeting met Edward Chiwawa

Foto A
Poseren met Edward Chiwawa
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Een bereidwillige medewerkster van de beeldentuin zorgde er voor, dat Edward Chiwawa met ons op de foto ging.  Hij moest het kappen van een beeld even onderbreken. Met een leeftijd van 79 jaar kapt hij nog ruim 13 uur per dag.

Een beetje ‘lullige’ foto. Twee oudjes, die triomfantelijk poseren met hun ‘behaalde’ trofee en een kunstenaar, die berustend kijkt: ‘moet ik weer op de foto’.
Ook lullig vind ik, dat ik het grootste beeldje mag vasthouden. Maar zeg eens eerlijk, met dat kleine beeldje zou nog lulliger geweest zijn.
Voor alle duidelijkheid Edward is met zijn 79 jaar de jongste op de foto (zie foto A).

Biografie van Edward Chiwawa 

Mijn voornaamste bron is Sculptors from Zimbabwe, geschreven door Ben Joosten. 

Edward Chiwawa is in 1935 geboren in Guruve (Zimbabwe).  Hij behoort tot de Shona groep en wel tot de Korekore stam.
Hij maakte kennis met het beeldhouwen in steen via zijn neef Henry Munyaradzi, een bekend beeldhouwer in steen.

Foto B

Edward Chiwawa aan het kappen in de beeldentuin

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Edward Chiwawa, voornamelijk werkzaam als landarbeider en korvenvlechter, besloot om in 1970 ook te beginnen met beeldhouwen in steen. Zijn leermeester was Wilson Chakawa.
Hij werkte een aantal jaren in Tengengenge, maar vertrok toen weer naar zijn geboorteplaats Guruve. Om zijn beelden onder de aandacht van kopers en galeriehouders te brengen, bracht hij zijn beelden naar een stand in Tengenenge.

In 1979 gedurende de Bevrijdingsoorlog in het toenmalige Rhodesië werd het te gevaarlijk in Guruve en ging Tengenenge zelfs dicht.  Met meerdere kunstenaars sloot Edward Chiwawa zich aan bij Tom Blomefield in Harare. Na de oorlog keerde Edward Chiwawa niet terug naar Guruve. Hij woont nu in Chitungwize, ten zuiden van Harare.

Edward Chiwawa slaagde er wel in om zijn beelden geplaatst te krijgen op ‘exhibitions’, zoals London (1981), Frankfurt (1985), Sydney (1986), Melbourne (1987), Rome (1987), Parijs (1987), Zwitserland en de USA in 1986. In 1986 won hij in Budapest de 1e prijs op de ‘7th International Small Sculpture Exhibition’.
Veel van zijn werken maken een permanent deel uit van de collecties van de National Gallery en het Chapunga Sculpture Park in Harare (Zimbabwe), de collectie van Manfred Kuhnigk in Bad Soden (Duitsland), het Afrika Museum in Berg en Dal en de collectie van Joseph Baerber in Zwitserland (bron: Franck MCEwen, THE AFRICAN WORKSHOP SCHOOL Rhodesia n.d.).

Werken van Edward Chiwawa

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In het verhaal van de Franck MCEwen school wordt het beeld van Edward Chiwawa met de moeilijke titel ‘Man in the N’Jeelja Bush’ genoemd als een mooi beeld. Het beeld is abstract, en gemaakt van serpentijnsteen. Het heeft afgeronde gladde kanten, geometrisch lijnenspel van de armen en het typische Edward Chiwawa gezicht.

Alle gezichten, man of vrouw, worden door Edward Chiwawa minimalistisch voorgesteld. De ogen bestaan uit twee concentrische cirkels, de neus is hoekig en plat, de mond vaak een streep. De beelden met enkel een gezicht bracht hij in relatie tot de maan, zoals ‘Moon Head’ of tot de zon zoals bijvoorbeeld in Rising Sun Head.’
Het beste voorbeeld hiervan kan ik geven door een foto te plaatsen van de door ons verkregen beeldjes van Edward Chiwawa. Op onze vraag hoe hij de beeldjes noemde, zei hij ‘Moon Head’.  Wij hebben hem helaas niet gevraagd of de beeldjes met elkaar verband hielden. Het grootste beeldje heeft hij duidelijk gesigneerd met E Chiwawa, het kleine niet. Misschien hoort het bij het grotere, zoiets als ‘Moeder en Dochter’ of ‘Vader en Zoon’. Het geslacht van het gezicht is moeilijk af te leiden, ofschoon op internet iemand beweert, dat het vrouwelijke trekken heeft.

Wel wil ik nog wijzen op de steen, een soort cobalt steen. met een mooie kleurschakering. Bij strijklicht komt er een paarse gloed over. Edward Chiwawa hecht veel waarde aan de steen. Hij schijnt eens gezegd te hebben: “De steen moet voor zichzelf spreken”.

Foto C
Dubbele ‘Moon Heads’\XIMG_8416-cs2-irf-cs2a
Voor een verdere indruk van Edward Chiwawas werk, zie de fotogalerij.

Pierre Swillens

Fotogalerij