Artists and writers throughout Africa constantly turn to the continent’s deep history and traditions for inspiration. But stone sculptors and carvers turn to just one country for insight: Zimbabwe.

The name Zimbabwe has its origins in the Shona word dzimbadzamabwe, which means "house of stone". Zimbabwe is one of the few countries in Africa that has large deposits of serpentine stone suitable for sculpting.

In the 1960s the art world quickly realised that the stone sculptures emerging from Zimbabwe represented the rise of a new art movement, and these works, especially the Shona stone sculptures, became popular collectors’ pieces in Europe and the US.

Throughout the ensuing years, Zimbabwe’s artists have endured political turmoil, economic upheaval and great hardship, and this has continued to inspire the works that have emerged from the next generation of artists.

An impressive collection of these sculptures went on show in Johannesburg last weekend.

The exhibition, Faces, is a celebration of some of the finest stone carvings by hand in the world today.

Faces is at the Rwavhi Fine Art stone sculpture gallery, 58 Roscommon Road, Parkview, until December 11.


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