Artists in quest for recognition

BULAWAYO - Artists temporarily abandoned their props to take to the streets with the sole intention of ensuring the people of Bulawayo get to know much about their workplace — the National Gallery of Zimbabwe in Bulawayo.

The awareness campaign which took place over the weekend was led by the gallery director Voti Thebe and Clifford Zulu, the assistant curator.

Over 20 artists including gallery staff left their schedules to engage in a noble and indispensable cause.

Of particular interest was how artists drawn from different arts genres joined the artists in solidarity with fellow artists in the quest for recognition in the fraternity.

The march which was taken to several streets and avenues in the city had the law enforcers and the emergency ambulance escorting the marchers.

A marimba band from Northlea High school provided entertainment to the marchers some of whom were holding banners which were inscribed the name of the gallery.

The occasion was the first of its kind ever since the National Gallery came into existence decades ago.

Bulawayo Gallery spokesperson Millicent Manyau told the Daily News the procession was an idea that came out after realising people in the city did not know much about the National Gallery.

“This was an idea that was brought about by our public relations department at the gallery here in Bulawayo after we felt that the local community did not have enough knowledge about this place,” said Manyau.

“We have come across many people who view this place as a resting point, a meeting point while some think it is an information centre where everything about the city is inquired.

“As a result we thought we needed to raise awareness and conscietise the people about the gallery which would go a long way in ensuring the appreciation of work by our visual artists,” she said.

Manyau added plans were afoot to hold yet another much bigger event as efforts to market the work of artists who most of them survive on painting and drawing as their form of income generation.

However, visual artists who spoke to the Daily News hailed the development.

“This is wonderful as this will send a clear message to the people that the gallery is an open place and they can come and view our works and if possible support us. This is where they can see the talent by sons and daughters of Bulawayo,” said one Brian Kumira a seasoned painter.

“Basically it was a good initiative for the gallery to conscietise the Bulawayo community because certainly people do not know what the role and importance of the art gallery is,” added another painter, Mthabisi Phili.

Bulawayo Gallery houses 20 practicing and resident visual artists in its various studios who work in various media such as print, painting, batik, ceramic and mosaic.

In 1995, Stephen Williams was appointed director of the National Gallery in Bulawayo; a post he held until his death as a result of a road accident in July 1996.

Doctor Yvonne Vera, the late celebrated author and academic, took the post and played her part in the establishment of the gallery as a major force in the growth of the visual arts in Matabeleland region.

Addelis Sibutha now director in the office of Deputy Prime Minister Thokozani Khupe had her stint as a director of the gallery. Voti Thebe is the man in charge.

At this Gallery the visitors get a rare opportunity to meet and see the artists at work.
The Visual Artists Association of Bulawayo (Vaab) which is the only association for visual artists in Zimbabwe is also accommodated in one of the studios.

The gallery is a natural hub in the city for the viewing of art, the screening of films and the hosting of literature readings and animation.

Also housed at the gallery is a shop and restaurant which provide the ideal ambiance in which to enjoy the visual heritage of the city and its contribution to the overall arts scene in the country.

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