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Sunday, November 29, 2009


(Photo by ZimArt: “Appeal for Blessings” by Singi Chihota, ZimArt’s artist in residence, 2009)

Work by contemporary Zimbabwean stone sculptors at Durban Botanic Gardens

Spirit in the Stone is an outdoor exhibition of more than 150 original, hand-carved stone sculptures from Zimbabwe which will be exhibited throughout the magnificent Durban Botanic Garden for one month from November 27. The concept is to create a hands-on cultural event with a strong educational component, which will have broad appeal while also delighting the art connoisseur.

The Botanic Gardens, which this month celebrates 160 years of serving the people of Durban, is increasingly used as an alfresco gallery showcasing art in a perfect natural surrounding. The gardens hosted the British Council’s Rivers of the World exhibition from June to November this year.

ZimArt has been curating Shona sculpture exhibitions in outdoor settings for a decade. “We have found that the work is enormously appealing to everyone – not just art lovers,” says Canadian-based ZimArt owner / curator Fran Fearnley. “The natural lighting sets the sculptures off in a way that can’t be achieved in a gallery, and an outdoor venue makes the art more accessible and appealing to all ages.”

Although Shona sculpture has become extremely popular in many parts of the world, South Africans rarely have the opportunity to see the best work because it is often destined for galleries overseas, before gaining local or regional exposure. Spirit in the Stone will showcase a dynamic selection of sculptures, in a range of sizes and stones, created by artists ZimArt has been representing in Canada over the past decade.

ZimArt is committed to fair trade practices and to building positive and respectful relationships with the artists it represents. Owner, Fran Fearnley, travels to Zimbabwe each year discovering the work of new artists and renewing friendships with artists with whom she has worked previously. She works with Biggie Chikodzi who has represented ZimArt in Zimbabwe since 2003, and who travels to Canada annually to attend ZimArt’s major exhibitions.

A feature of ZimArt’s exhibitions is to involve an artist on site. This is enormously appealing for visitors who can see a work in progress, handle the tools and the raw stone and gain first hand knowledge of how the work is created. Singi Chihota is ZimArt’s artist-in-residence for 2009 and he will be on site during Spirit in the Stone in Durban. Chihota recently returned from two successful months in Canada where he was the featured artist in two major exhibitions and lead three sculpting workshops.

Chris Dalzell, Curators Durban Botanic Gardens said, “It is a great honour for Durban Botanic Gardens, to host for the very first time work by Zimbabwean Stone Sculptors which has become popular within Botanic Gardens world wide. We hope that the Durban public will visit and respect these sculptures and enjoy the wonderful artworks of these talented artists”. For more information about ZimArt visit

The gardens are open seven days a week. Entry to the gardens is free and all are welcome. School groups are encouraged to contact Martin Clement on 031 309 1170 or fax 031 309 1271 or visit