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Sculpture industry in doldrums

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By Anesu Mirisawu

mirisawua@dailynews.co.zw

AS COVID-19 continues to ravage the world, the local sculpture industry has been hit hard by the absence of international tourists, who make up the bulk of its customers.
Since March last year, Zimbabwe has not been receiving international tourists and local stone sculptors have been producing pieces without any buyers.

Speaking to the Daily News, internationally-acclaimed and multi-award winning Zimbabwean sculptor, Dominic Benhura, said while the lockdown is necessary considering the upsurge of coronavirus cases, it has, however, slowed down his business.

“Business is no longer going smoothly considering that sculptors normally target tourists but due to the Covid-19 lockdown, movement is no longer permitted, hence a reduction in arrivals.”

Benhura added that because of this development, he cannot organise or hold any exhibitions.

“The situation is really bad, we are working at home waiting for the situation to ease for us to be able resume business,” Benhura said.

In recent years, Benhura’s career has continued to blossom, with successful exhibitions in Europe, America, Asia and indeed in several African countries.

His exhibitions have been greeted by extraordinary critical acclaim and he has held workshops in Holland, Belgium, Germany, and the United Kingdom. Benhura has managed to create a popular appeal for the stone sculpture of Zimbabwe.

His work appeals as much to the person who knows nothing about stone sculpture as to the seasoned collector. The imagery used in his work has immediate international appeal and is more accessible to the new audiences. The art is direct, powerfully human and his use of varieties of stone and imagination has led to many exciting and unexpected new creations.

The range of subjects are varied and include plants, trees, reptiles, animals and the whole gamut of human experience.

Meanwhile, Chitungwiza Arts Centre chairperson Godwin Madzinga said Covid-19 has been a major setback as it has stopped tourists, who are the majority of buyers, from visiting Zimbabwe. Madzinga said artsts had high hopes that 2021 would bea better business year.

“We have plenty of sculptures on display. But no one is coming to buy due to Covid-19 restrictions. “We are asking our government to provide relief funds for the sculpture industry. I, however, would like to thank our government for its efforts as some artists have received relief funds.”

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