Chapungu Gallery under liquidation

HARARE - Chapungu Sculpture Park is under liquidation with the entire collection going on sale.
The liquidator, Teri Grimmel confirmed the sale to the Daily News.

“As the liquidator, I am required to close up and turn all the assets into liquid cash and I have to sell the entire collection, including all the early pieces by some of our best and most well-known sculptors such as Square Chikwanda, Arthur Fata, Tapfuma Gutsa, Biggy Kapeta, Colleen Madamombe and Joram Mariga”
She said other notable works kept at the gallery belonged to Bernard Matembera, Boira Mteki, Sylvester Mubayi, Nicholas Mukomberanwa, Henry Munyaradzi, Agnes Nyanhongo, Bernard Takawira and John Takawira.
Chapungu Sculpture Park was established by Roy Guthrie as The Gallery Shona Sculpture in 1970 and moved to its present location in Doone Estate, Msasa, Harare in 1985.

Collection, preservation, promotion, encouragement and documentation have been Chapungu’s main roles since 1980.

The policy of acquiring major works for the permanent collection has enabled the park to mount many of the most important and comprehensive exhibitions of past years.

It has also meant that these works remain as sculptural heritage of Zimbabwe.

Grimmel said although many of the acknowledged first-generation artists are no longer alive, a strong body of inspired and dedicated stone sculptor’s remains.

Prominent first-generation artists such as Mukomberanwa who died in 2002, Mubayi and Matemera who died in 2002 are represented in the collection.

Second and third generation sculptures, spearheaded by Tapfuma Gutsa who, apart from his own sculptural genius, has inspired many young talents, is also represented.

Other major second-generation artists in the collection include Dominic Benhura, Joseph Muzondo, Arthur Fata, Agnes and Gedion Nyanhongo, Eddie Masaya, Joe Mutasa, Colleen Madamombe, Amos Supuni, Anderson Mukomberanwa, Taylor Nkomo, Rachel Ndandarika, Fabian Madamombe and Fungayi Mwarowa.

Impressive works of sculptors make the resident collection at the gallery.

Grimmel said the gallery failed to sustain itself due to a cocktail of challenges.

“Due to a combination of unfortunate circumstances, the company was unable to sustain itself through hyperinflation, the world recession and the downturn in visitors to the country.”

She said traditionally, the biggest market for Shona sculpture was with tourists and other organisations in the developed world.

The company was placed under liquidation by an order of the High Court.

Following this, the collection is for sale to raise funds to pay the creditors.

The sale is being conducted through the Liquidator, Grimmel.

These creditors include the former employees of the company who are due to receive terminal benefits in line with the Insolvency Act.

The second meeting of creditors is due to be held at the High Court on December 5, 2012.

The Daily News published a story earlier this year revealed that the gallery owed its 24 employees $150 000 in wages, as workers last received their dues in November 2011.

At that time Lichanda Richard the workers’ committee chairperson who boasted of serving the collapsing company for almost two decades, said life proved cumbersome to the workers in the last seven months.

However, the workers felt cheated at that time believing that the owner Guthrie was in a position to pay them.

However, at that time Guthrie the gallery’s director did not say much as he had just undergone a heart operation, but he managed to confirm the development.

The gallery houses sculptures worth more than $2,5 million.

“If we sell our best 10 sculptures we will be in a better position to pay all our debts including workers,” said one of the administrators earlier to the Daily News, but now the whole collection is being sold.

The sudden closure of the gallery came as a shock to famed sculptors Gutsa and Benhura.

Benhura described the closure of the gallery as unfortunate to artists.

“This is unfortunate to all artists — young and old because many artists in the country were assisted by Chapungu.

“Chapungu Sculpture Park was a pioneer, it laid a foundation for sculptors, it has backed a number of artists in Zimbabwe.

“Guthrie is an ambassador of art. A lot of prominent sculpture artists came through him,” said Benhura an internationally-acclaimed artist.

Benhura spent most of his formative years at Chapungu Sculpture Park.

He is regarded as the creator of some of the most innovative Zimbabwean sculpture.

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