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Mbare: home of visual art

Kundai Marunya Arts Correspondent
Colour has a unique way to beautify and spread smiles even in the harshest conditions.

It is not surprising that Harare’s oldest high density suburb of Mbare, which many could term an urban slum as most of its environs are clogged with dirt, noise and smoke, houses some of the country’s top visual artistes.

A drive through the suburb captures one with a beauty of three large murals covering walls of Matapi Flats.

Done by Dutch graffiti artist Roy Valk collaborating with locals Wallen Mapondera, Richard Mudariki and Admire Kamudzengerere, the beautiful smiles shed on the murals serve as a reminder that even in squalid conditions, people still enjoy life.

Then there are those painted by Mbare graffiti artistes Warren Maruta and Beszil Matsika, celebrating Mbare heroes – musicians that have made a living from their art.

These are spread across walls of the block that houses Chillspot Records, the nerve centre of Zimdancehall.

The love of visual art, its employment to colour life in the suburb and embrace by young people to better their life can also be attributed to National Gallery of Zimbabwe (NGZ) School of Visual Art and Design, which is also housed in the area.

It is this school that has produced some of the coveted young artistes from the area, giving them a voice to paint their lives and tell their stories through their different visual art creations.

Notable names include Moffat Takadiwa, Takunda Billiat, Gresham Nyaude, Troy Makaza, Julio Ruzhi and Wycliffe Mundopa.

Some of them use objects like scavenged materials discarded from local home industry, while some specialise in mixed media, paint and brush.

Whatever medium they use, their art has made it into the world, being exhibited across the globe.

Nyaude is one of the most vibrant among the flock.

His work has been showcased in Johannesburg, Cape Town, London, Paris and New York, among other world cities.

“My father was an illustrator, so I was in constant contact with art from a young age,” said Nyaude. “At first, art was just a past-time, something I did for fun, but now I earn a living from it.

“I am even able to financially assist my siblings and other family members through my art.”

Befitting to the magnitude of art being produced in Mbare is the Chinembiri Community Hall which serves as a studio to most of the artistes.

Some have outgrown the space to build their own work-stations elsewhere, but they remain in constant touch with their roots for inspiration and also to lend a hand to those still coming up.

Source : The Herald

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