The Shona Art Movement
Life as a Zimbabwean Sculptor
Over the years, we have spent many days and weeks with the stone sculptors of Zimbabwe and made many good friends. We have a pretty good sense of what makes them tick, and thought you might find these comments about relationships with customers and community and the history of the art movement fascinating...
"Some people who work in factories etc. look at the sculptors when they are sitting for month after month with no customers, and they ask, "Why do you do this thing?"
But sculpting is a calling, it comes from the inside. Even though I'm a professional truck driver, I'm not happy working for someone else. When customers do come, we do well, but you have to be very strong inside to survive the quiet times."
"Historically the sculpture community was very close and often intermarried. They shared the same interests and artistic nature, and understood the idea of being an artist where the wider community saw them as misfits. Often the children of sculptors grew up together as they lived in communities such as Vukutu - they played together as children but they also sometimes ended up marrying. Now we are into the third generation of contemporary Zimbabwean sculptors, all the main sculpture families are interlinked by marriage."
"Sometimes when those buyers [who offer poor prices] come to visit, you only show them the pieces [you've made] that you're not so fond of. If there are pieces that you make that you feel really good about, you keep them to show to customers you know will give you a price you'll be happy with."
"You don't see any work like this from me on other websites because you guys [guruve.com] are the only ones who pay me a decent price for the pieces. For everyone else, I just do simple pieces."
"Everybody who has seen these pieces while I've been creating them has been amazed. They want to know why they haven't seen this quality before, why they haven't noticed me. I tell them these pieces are reserved for Tim and Emma [guruve.com] because I know I'll get paid properly for them. For everybody else, I make less effort and the quality falls."
"When I first saw people copying my art, I was very surprised. I never thought I would ever have anyone imitating my pieces."
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