The National Gallery of Zimbabwe will this November, stage the Rough Diamond End of Year Student’s Exhibition. The exhibition presents works of emerging artists who have spent the past two years obtaining essential creative skills. As an art institution it is the National Gallery of Zimbabwe’s mandate to nurture artistic talent and build the local creative industry. This is successfully being achieved through the National Gallery School of Visual Art and Design (NGSVAD).
The history of the National Gallery school of Visual Art and Design dates back to 1962 when the Director of the National Gallery by then, Frank McEwen opened a Workshop School. The main thrust and objective of the school was to encourage indigenous creative expression through informal interaction. Since several graduates of this school are now participating on international platforms such as La Biennale di Venezia and are signed to some of the world’s leading Galleries.
The birth and growth of Work Shop School saw people from different ethnic groups coming to the school to earn a livelihood and enhance their artistic skills. McEwen’s workshop was disbanded in 1975. The aftermath of independence saw the Gallery being exposed to more international platforms for example galleries and museums and another school was opened in 1981 with the support of the British America Tobacco (BAT). Today the school is under the sponsorship of three Royal Norwegian Embassy (NORAD) AND HIVOS
The National Gallery of Zimbabwe School of Visual Art and Design has been a nurturing ground for many visual artists in Zimbabwe. The Rough Diamond exhibition will show case new works by a group of first and second year students, as well as that of artists in residence. Comprising different media forms, this exhibition demonstrates the creative skills that these budding young artists have acquired in the past twelve months.
Ordinarily staged as the Green Shoots exhibition, Rough Diamond will be adopted to relate the exhibition to the National Gallery of Zimbabwe’s 60th Anniversary celebrations; that said, the jubilee theme being diamond contributes largely to the branding of this exhibition.
This is the spirit that this refreshing exhibition exudes. The participating students are given the opportunity to explore and experiment with different art forms and media. The students would have been part of the debate theories in class, watched master artist at work during workshops and they would have spent hours researching themes in order to find answers to some critical questions. Now the onus would be on them to find their own individual style and voice. This exhibition is replete with evidence that young artists are adequately equipped and have the necessary confidence to launch their independent career or to produce into their second year.
Moreso, all across the country everything due to the rains turns green. It blossoms and grows; floras emerge, calling forth beautiful creatures like butterflies and the like. This at the same time in a similar way is a season students emerge into. They start off from obscurity and begin to form their own identity as young artist. This is why the exhibition was annually held under the theme Green Shoots. Metaphorically like green shoots students have grown in their artistic practises. Some students would be completing their diplomas in art and will be entering into the big aide art world whilst others will step into the next level and learn how to work more independently. This enables students to find their own creativity and voice. This year the exhibition is running under the theme rough diamonds. The students are referred to as rough diamonds they have the talent but are not yet fully equipped with knowledge.
The exhibition is curated by the Curator for Education and Public Programming Tandazani Dhlakama with the help of lecturers of great expertise in art and Visual school. The exhibition also acknowledges students with high marks during the exhibition. Over one hundred works ae exhibited. The visual artistic works exhibited include visual paintings photography digital media among other forms of art.
Notable artists who have emerged from the school include Crispen Matekenya, Chiko Chazunguza, Richard Witakani, Justin Gope, Portia Zvavahera, Tapfuma Gutsa and Cosmas Shiridzinomwa the list is endless. In a bid to promote stone sculpture McEwen formulated the Work Shop School and indeed no doubt the rough diamonds exhibition is like a bomb. Up to date the enthusiasm of African artists is tremendous and their work gets better and better. Rough Diamonds will run from the 30th of November to 8th of January 2018