Zim artist makes it big in Belgium

HARARE - When Harare-born painter Molly Maureen Phiri Winkelmans left Zimbabwe for Belgium 16 years ago she hardly ever imagined that she would end up a proud owner of a classy art gallery in Antwerp.

The product of BAT School of Arts, Harare Polytechnic Fine Arts department and National Gallery of Zimbabwe owns Molly’s Artmove Gallery which she set up three years ago.

“I specialise in canvas painting, but I am also familiar with printing, lino-printing, photography and even interior decorating,” said the 39-year-old painter.

“I regard myself as much more than a painter; I am a visual artist with a personal style wherein I mix the well-known elements of Zimbabwean sculpting with my painting. I call it ‘Sculptural Paintings’.

Molly uses her art to celebrate the achievements of African women whose success stories are usually overlooked.

“My work pays homage to African women for the courage with which they face life. I paint African memories and realities. My work revolves around family, mothers, daughters, sisters and women.”

She is grateful to pioneering Zimbabwean sculptors like Colleen Madamombe, Tapfuma Gutsa, Bernard Takawira and Nicholas Mukomberanwa whose beautiful art won international acclaim.

“I translate this tradition of these great sculptors to the canvas with a style that is adapted to a modern European living or working environment.

“Thanks to the inspiration from these guys, my work has been on display in many countries including Zimbabwe, Botswana, England, the United States of America, Germany and Finland.”
Molly spent her early years in Botswana, Zambia and Zimbabwe and was fascinated by art from a very young age.

“I loved using recycled — sometimes very bizarre — materials to create little sculptures and drawings.

“Despite the fact that some of my more progressive teachers could appreciate my creations, the community of Zambia, where I spent most of my early youth, was not yet ready for my art of creating beautiful things.

“I smashed many of my early creations because people thought it was too strange that a little girl of my age made such bizarre figurines.

“Nevertheless, I just continued doing what I did best, without listening too much to my family and neighbours.”

Molly’s art got more appreciation in Botswana when her family relocated there 33 years ago.

“My teachers in Botswana were very enthusiastic about my art and my drawings were very much appreciated at school,” said the Belgium-based artist.

 “Afterwards, when I went to high school still in Botswana, the school principal got me all the necessary information so that I could go and study Fine Arts in my native country, Zimbabwe.”

In Zimbabwe, Molly’s art caught the eye of the National Art Gallery of Zimbabwe who awarded her a scholarship.

That was to mark a successful journey into art that earned her numerous awards before opening doors for her in Belgium. - Dakarai Mashava, Entertainment Editor

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