Portrait photo of first generation Shona sculptor Bernard Takawira of Zimbabwe

Bernard Takawira

Bernard Takawira (1948-1997)

Bernard Takawira was born in Nyatate (near Nyanga) in eastern Zimbabwe. He made his first sculpture whilst still at school, provoked by a challenge from his brother John Takawira, already an established sculptor.

Throughout the Sixties and Seventies, Bernard struggled with his sculpture as it was uneconomical to fetch stones from one end of the country and transport finished works to the National Gallery in Salisbury (now Harare) for sale. Although he sometimes determined to give up sculpting, creative ideas tormented him at night and he soon resumed.

After chance brought him to Harare in 1977, Bernard found that life in the capital suited him much better and allowed him to work at his own pace and to find suitable raw materials. He worked as a full-time sculptor from then on.

Bernard’s approach to sculpture was very typical of Shona sculpture as an art movement – he perceived the subject or form within the stone and, by removing the superfluous stone, he was able to liberate the sculpture within.

Bernard was selected to represent Zimbabwe at an International Sculpture Conference in the USA in 1982. He was awarded first prize in the National Gallery’s (NGZ) annual exhibition and the NGZ’s Director’s Award of Distinction in 1988. His work was part of the ground-breaking exhibition ‘Shona Sculptures of Rhodesia’ at the ICA in London in 1972 and in numerous exhibitions thereafter.

We also have a few pieces of Bernard’s work that are not yet on the web gallery. If you are interested, please contact us and we can send you photos.

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