Leroy Dzenga Lifestyle Writer
Across the globe vibrant cities are known through their urban culture which reflects the energy carried by the youth they house.
Street art and a generous dash of colour is what makes South Africa`s inner city Johannesburg and Maboneng precinct the spectacles they are.
In Zimbabwe, armed with a few paintbrushes and a dream, there is a duo ready to ensure Harare will be counted among the most colourful in few years to come.
Nyasha Jeche (26) and Marcus Zvinavashe (27) who run a creative startup called Caligraph have been running what they term Township Media, which is a brand of art that combines street art and conventional advertising together.
“We are an art collective that does murals, graffiti in private and public spaces. We do commercial urban advertising using graffiti as a medium of advertising. Our work started in Budiriro where we have painted murals on a number of family security walls,” said Jeche, one half of the collective.
Their current commissioned project, a painting of Theatre In The Park in Harare has attracted good reviews on the internet.
The place being a hub of artistic activity, served as a worthy canvass for the young dreamers whose story is not told by words but aesthetically captivating and powerful visuals.
Jeche and Zvinavashe vow that the city will be a pleasant sight when they are done with it, all things being equal.
“There are spaces we wish the city council or the authorities could give us and we could change how the city looks. We are prepared to do paintings on traffic islands in the city, public toilets (inside and outside), benches and street tables,” Jeche said.
Graffiti in history has been considered as a radical art, in some cities it is outlawed. Whether or not it will be fully embraced in “conservative” Harare remains to be seen.
Zvinavashe explained how they will push the concept to acceptability within the Zimbabwean commercial sphere.
“The narrative has always been that graffiti is radical art but in our way of expression, we have managed to harness the power of art. Our goal is to redefine spaces by adding ambiance and visual,” said Zvinavashe.
The former room-mates at Chinhoyi University of Technology decided to use their Bachelor of Art Honours in Creative Art and Design to open up doors for themselves.
“Finishing college in 2016, we always knew we were not cut out to be employees. So when I visited South Africa in 2017, I joined a company that does commercial murals for advertising. I realised that this is a good money making venture and there was need to implement this in Harare. Now Harare is a different city with different beliefs. For advertising, people believe in popular media such as television, radio and newspapers. It`s hard to break in but we are trying all we can,” said Jeche.
Their hope is that their art will get more appreciation and they can get more gigs to add their voices to the prevailing narrative.
Just like how Soweto-based trio, I See A Different You have managed to capture the eye of corporates in their country through disruptive creativity, the Caligraph duo believe their tale will be similar if not better.
Young artists who could have pursued the easy route of normal employment decided to push the envelope and chart their own path.
Their mission? To be remembered as the duo who brought colour to the city.
With Harare targeting a world class city status by 2030, these are the people they may need on board to give the sunshine city a little creative glow.
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