ZimSculpt Serendipity

My walk through the river valley started as nothing more than an excuse to spend as much time as possible enjoying the gentle warmth of an almost-autumn Sunday. I figured I’d stop by the Muttart Conservatory for a ramble around the pyramids, have a little lunch at Culina cafe, and wander home again.

Instead, I ended up in Zimbabwe.

DSCN2055In the courtyard of the Conservatory, a few onlookers were standing respectfully behind a rope where two African sculptors sat under a canvas canopy, releasing the shapes hidden in blocks of springstone. The artists paused frequently to answer questions and chat, not seeming to mind when a little boy slipped under the rope and picked up their rasps, chisels, and hammers for a closer inspection.  DSCN2058 DSCN1945From inside the Muttart’s lobby came the funky tones of Mbira Renaissance, an Edmonton-based Zimbabwean band, grooving to finger pianos, bass, drums, and the lilting rhythms of the Shona language. DSCN2042

I had unknowingly stumbled on the opening of a two-month celebration of Zimbabwean sculptors and their work. ZimSculpt, a world-wide curator of Zimbabwean sculpture, had brought to Edmonton the two artists-in-residence I had already met, Aron Kapembeze and Passmore Mupindiko. During the coming weeks, they’ll demonstrate their techniques, make contacts with the artistiic community, and sell their work. All proceeds from the sale of their sculptures, and that of dozens of other Zimbabweans, go directly to the artists.

Walking around the Muttart’s pyramids is always sense-stimulating, but the dozens of sculptures on display, each artistically placed to complement a plant, a waterfall, or a ray of sunshine, made my tour even more fascinating.

Some artists displayed abstract shapes, with thought-provoking titles:

DSCN1990
Evolving
Different Directions
Different Directions

Others had found inspiration in the shapes and personalities of plants and animals:
DSCN1970 DSCN2016DSCN1995
DSCN2006DSCN1954 But my favorite sculptures were the ones that captured the strength and joy and beauty of the Zimbabwean people.

I was reminded of how solitude can rejuvenate….

Seated Bather
Seated Bather
DSCN2036
Proud Woman
Daydreaming
Daydreaming

…and the power of women’s relationships.

DSCN1996
United Women
DSCN2024
Waiting at the clinic
DSCN2037
First love
DSCN2030
The proposal

I experienced the wonder of family, as two become three become the echo of love across generations.

So proud of you
So proud of you
DSCN2010
Welcoming the new addition
Grandmother
Grandmother

On my way back to the lobby, I noticed a sign that told me I’d barely touched the surface of all this celebration will offer in the weeks to come. New sculptures will replace those I’ve just experienced. On September 17, an African fusion concert. On October 12, a ZimSculpt showcase. Something tells me I’ll be back soon, this time with a definite purpose in mind.

Rejoicing
Rejoicing

7 comments

  1. You stumble into the most interesting things Pam! I love these sculptures – especially “Evolving” and “Bather Seated”. Powerful!

  2. It truly was a serendipitous discovery! I wasn’t expecting anything more than a pastoral afternoon of looking at plants! But I got so much more, and I’m going to go back for another look.

  3. Serendipity is great, I agree. While you were looking at sculptures at the Muttart, I was in a sculpture garden too. We were in Roche Harbour, San Juan Islands. More fabulous and unexpected finds!

    Love,
    Deb

  4. Pam, this was so interesting to me, because when I saw the show I did not respond so enthusiastically as you. I wanted to, but I found the sharp stone edges didn’t recall the African rhythm I remember. I noticed the plants were in their prime, in each pavilion. You wrote with such flow, highlighting the sculptures in an integrated fashion. I’ll go back another time. Perhaps some of your joyous influence will rub off!

  5. I’m happy to be an influence on your response to the sculptures if it’s meant to be. You’ve been to Africa, so maybe something about this particular art style isn’t resonating for you.

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