Fallen Culture


Avocado Serpentine

  • 65cm (h)
  • 47.5cm (w)
  • 32cm (d)


portrait photo of Charles Kowo

Charles Kowo


One of the outstanding works of this year’s sculpture collection.

The base of the sculpture represents Zimbabwean society’s cultural roots. The upward movement from the base represents economic development. Catching up with other parts of the world improves education levels, healthcare provision and agricultural output. It reduces infant mortality and (hopefully) poverty and malnutrition. Modernisation can be a good thing in many ways.

But, for Charles (who is still a young man), he feels that if there is too much ‘bad’ communication (via internet, social media etc.) then it can mean a loss of respect for traditional culture and values. At its heart, this is a loss of Shona culture itself. This aspect, represented by the dip in the top, reveals a very mature understanding on Charles’ part that not all so-called ‘progress’ is positive. Once the floodgates are opened, it is hard to control the ideas that stream through. There is huge resistance in Zimbabwe to Western modes of thought regarding, for example, the position of women in society and homosexuality. What we think of as ‘normal’ can be immoral or subversive in other cultures.

We delight in a sculpture that is at once so aesthetically pleasing, as well as carrying a deep and thoughtful message. Sculptures like this are examples of the very best of contemporary Zimbabwean sculpture.

Unsurprisingly, this hard variety of serpentine stone has been named ‘avocado’ after its striking pale green and yellow colouration. It is suitable for outdoor display, though we would recommend covering it with fleece during very cold weather for peace of mind.

The colours in the stone are entirely natural, merely enhanced by the application of a coat of clear wax. The lines you can see are part of the natural serpentine stone Рthey are not cracks or lines of weakness.