Wednesday, June 19, 2013

National Gallery of Zimbabwe in Mutare: the journey 2006-2010

In early 2006, I participated in the first 3 man exhibition I organized and curated at the National Gallery of Zimbabwe in Mutare titled "Our Thoughts". I still remember that time, young, inexperienced, poor, confused and an unknown bunch of young artists. We traveled by night by train from Harare to Mutare, our artworks in baggage section of the train. Arriving early morning in Mutare, on our first visit ever to the Eastern Highlands city, some of our artworks were damaged, and with empty stomachs, we got lost from the train station to the gallery. No one had a cellphone, we could not contact the gallery for direction and had to ask for directions from people in the streets. 

From left: Wallen Mapondera, Inzwai Mushowe, Enos Mangaku and Richard Mudariki (from the Archival Records of the artist)
Lost and walking around in the city with our paintings and drawings wrapped in plastics and cloth, we eventually arrived at the gallery to the warm welcome of Judy Mutunhu, the then Regional Director of the gallery. We did not sell any work on the exhibition, but it was the beginning of a wonderful relationship with the National Gallery of Zimbabwe in Mutare.
National Gallery of Zimbabwe im Mutare. Entrance into the gallery: Photo Credit: Wallen Mapondera (from the Archival records of the artist)

I am very grateful for that experience, it taught me that one must go out and find opportunities. And there will be setbacks and difficulties, but such is life. For the next 3 years, we held 3 man exhibitions at the National Gallery and commanded a good following. we made friends - Katharine Prescott-Decie Schneeberger being one of the many, who supported the 3 young artists with their efforts. And more importantly, in 2008 we held an exhibition as part of the Africa University Arts Festival, an important event in the City of Mutare.
Newspaper article: The Herald Feb. 2008 (from Archival Records of the artist)
It gave the group confidence and was good for letting our names be known by the arts community of Mutare. l would like to also recognize Judy Mutunhu (Regional Director in 2006), Elizabeth Muusha (current Regional Director) Mr Chikukwa (gallery manager) Richard Mawere ( a good friend who has supported our efforts and helped us with accommodation), Dr Mutunhu, Dr T. Chitepo, representatives from the Mayor of Mutare and the City of Mutare as well as all those that I may not have mention at this point in time.

The yearly visits to this city made me fall in love with this ever green and mountainous city full of lovely Manyika people. One day, when I am old as vintage wine, I will retire in that mountainous city

From Left: Wallen Mapondera, Richard Mudariki, Inzwai Mushohwe in 2008 (from the Archival records of the artist)

2006: Our Thoughts, NGZ Mutare, Mutare, Zimbabwe
2007: Our Sixth Sense, NGZ Mutare, Zimbabwe
2008: Onai, NGZ Mutare, Zimbabwe
2009: Africa University Arts Festival, Group Exhibition, NGZ Mutare
2010:, NGZ Mutare, Zimbabwe

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