Tag Archives: shona sculpture art

Africa Shona sculpture



Shona Sculptures - Van Dusen Gardens, Vancouver photo Lorna flickr Abstract stone carved sculpture

Abstract Shona sculpture – Van Dusen Gardens, Vancouver   photo Lorna flickr



The emergence of Shona sculpture:


Shona sculpture has been accepted as one of the most important art movements to emerge from Africa in the twentieth century, successfully combining traditional artistic beliefs with contemporary styles. The nascent “Shona sculpture movement”, which began in the fifties, has grown to be regarded as an art renaissance, as it had evolved, without hardly any sculptural heritage, into an art genre displaying vigor, spontaneity and originality in an area of Africa previously dismissed as artistically barren in the visual arts.
The Shona comprise over three quarters of the population of Zimbabwe, and smaller groups live in South Africa, Botswana, Zambia, and Mozambique while Shona is the official language of Zimbabwe.

Shona sculpture essentially began in 1957 in the former Rhodesia when Frank McEwen, who had been appointed as the first curator of the new National Gallery in Harare, encouraged local artists to take up sculpting, by providing studio space, tools and materials. He had previously been curator at the Rodin Museum in Paris and had links with various artists of the time, including Picasso and Matisse, who ironically had both been influenced by African art. Frank McEwan recognized that the Shona peoples had a natural affinity with stone and an innate creativity, hence his desire to establish art workshops.


Chapungu-Sculpture-Park-shona sculpture

Shona sculpture – Chapungu Sculpture Park, Harare

The Shona artist ‘works’ together with his stone and believes that ‘nothing which exists naturally is inanimate’- it has a spirit and life of its own. They didn’t receive any technical training and had very little knowledge of art from the outside world, so as McEwan described, their work revealed “the images they bore in their souls”.
Bernard Matemera, one of the early sculptors in this movement stated: “The spirits are everywhere in the air, in the rocks. A rock is like a fruit – like an orange or a banana. You don’t eat them without peeling them first. It needs to be opened to be eaten. I open the rocks. The fruit is inside.” Frank McEwen encouraged a creative atmosphere of individual ‘drawing out’ rather than didactic art school process. In response, the artist’s’ instinct was to draw on their belief system and represent the spirit world through their art. Some of the artists believe they are possessed by a ‘shave’, a wandering spirit, who confers artistic ability, or by ancestor spirits with traditional talents such as carving. McEwen encouraged the artists to look inward, to find their so-called tribal subconsciousness and express it through their art.


Boniface Mushave-'The Thinker'-Serpentine,-2001

‘The Thinker’ – Serpentine sculpture by Boniface Mushave

Chapungu Sculpture Park, 2001


Another important development was in the 1960‘s when a sculpture community was established at Tengenenge by Tom Bloemfield on his farm in Northern Zimbabwe, near the Great Dyke, which is a rich source of good quality serpentine stone. This has now become one of the largest sculpture art communities in Zimbabwe.
In ancient Zimbabwe, between the the 11th and 15th centuries, stone was used extensively for building and for decorative purposes. Stone masons used hand hewn granite blocks to create precisely built ornate towers and enclosures without use of mortar. The Great Zimbabwe settlement, now a World Heritage Site, combined an aesthetic blend of carved natural rock formations and dry stone construction.


Female Shona sculptor Angasa-Amali----Tengenenge-Art-Community

Female sculptor Angasa Amali – Tengenenge Art Community


Thematic influences in Shona sculpture include the natural world and man’s relationship with nature, mythology, folklore, rituals and beliefs in ancestral spirits and other traditional esoteric ideals. The spirit world is often represented by a hole (‘negative space’) in the sculpture, forming a portal into another dimension. Spirits are usually conceived of as full of swirling motion, like a gentle whirlwind. Fundamental human experiences such as grief, elation, humour, anxiety and spiritual aspects are communicated in a profoundly simple and direct manner, quite often with an abstract form, to manifest a refreshing outcome.

Zimbabwe is derived from the Shona word ‘dzimbadzamabwe’ which has the meaning ‘house of stone’ and is the only country on the African continent that has large deposits of stone suitable for sculpting.The shona sculptors are fortunate that in Zimbabwe a magnificent range of stones are available from which to choose: hard black springstone, richly coloured serpentine and soapstones, firm grey limestone and semi-precious Verdite and Lepidolite.



‘The First Born’ – Gedion Nyanhongo

Height 11.5 inches – 2005



Nicholas-Mukomberanwa-Sculpture-Wise-Spirit abstract sculpture

Nicholas Mukomberanwa sculpture – ‘Wise Spirit’





Woman-of-Wisdom_stone statue Nicholas-Mukomberanw---photo-Michael-Menefee

‘Woman of Wisdom’ – stone statue by Nicholas Mukomberanwa

photo Michael Menefee

Chapungu Sculpture from Chapungu Sculpture Park in Harare, Zimbabwe, currently on exhibition at Denver Botanic Gardens



Madora (Mupani-Worm) by Nicholas Mukomberanw

Madora (Mupani-Worm) by Nicholas Mukomberanw





Zimbabwe Shona figure sculpture at Naples Botanical Garden

Gray Lensman QX! – flickr


Animal Spirit---Lovemore Bonjisi---Zimart Stone Shona sculpture

‘Animal Spirit’ —Lovemore Bonjisi




‘Love is in the Wind’  Shona stone sculpture

Chapungu Sculpture Park



Boy-Dreaming-by-Sylvester-Mubayi - Green stone sculpture

‘Boy Dreaming’ by Sylvester Mubayi


Photo credit Paul Hodgkinson



Chapungu Sculpture Park at Centerra

Loveland, Colorado



Colleen Madamombe Zimbabwe Shona sculptor

Shona sculptor Colleen Madamombe




In Harmony With Nature by Simon Chidharara A girl holding a bird sculpture

‘In Harmony With Nature’ by Simon Chidharara


Photo credit Paul Hodgkinson



Colleen-Madamombe---Hello-h55cm A Zimbabwean woman waving hello

Colleen Madamombe – ‘Hello’

height 55cm – 21 inches



Ocean-Wave-by-Authur-Manyengedzo Black abstract Shona carved stone sculpture

‘Ocean Wave’ by Authur Manyengedzo


Photo credit Paul Hodgkinson


Derek Keats-photo-gazelle and lion-sculpture

Gazelle and lion sculpture, South Africa

Derek Keats photo


Shona sculpture Me And My Messenger---Stephen Murenza

Shona sculpture ‘Me And My Messenger’ — Stephen Murenza



Edmore-Sango---Endless-Journey - abstract shona sculpture carved from stone

Edmore Sango — ‘Endless Journey’ 



Itayi-Mupumha-'Ululation' absttact shona sculpture

Itayi Mupumha – ‘Ululation’ 



Edmore-Sango-My-Hair---springstone carved sculpture

Edmore Sango -‘My Hair’— carved from springstone




Shona sculpture with matt and polished surface



Eyewitness'-by James Mapayi flat round face sculpture

‘Eyewitness’ by James Mapayi



From the Well---Lameck Million Shona sculpture of a woman carrying a pot on her head

Women carrying pot Shona sculpture ‘From the Well’ — Lameck Million




Zimbabwe serpentine stone Shona sculpture – ‘Eyewitness’ –  Gift Rusere



Ishmael-Chitiyo Reflection 39cm height

 ‘Reflection’ – Ishmael Chitiyo

39cm – 15 inches height



Keeping-the-History---Agnes-Nyanhongo Sculpture of a Zimbabwean lady

‘Keeping the History’ — Agnes Nyanhongo



James-Mbanda-Split-Head - minimal head sculpture

James Mbanda – ‘Split Head’ 



Shona female sculpture – Van Dusen Gardens, Vancouver

  photo Lorna flickr



Knowledge-Chanetsa---Watching abstract cubist Shona sculpture

‘Watching’ – Knowledge Chanetsa



Lorna-flickr---Shona-sculpture of a kneeling naked woman

 Kneeling naked woman Shona sculpture

Van Dusen Gardens, Vancouver

  photo Lorna flickr




Lovemore Bonjisi — ‘Humble Man’

Carved from springstone -45 inches height



Lovers in Passion-Shona Sculpture-from-Zimbabwe by Rufaro Ngoma

‘Lovers in Passion’ – by Rufaro Ngoma

Springstone Shona Sculpture polished with beeswax from Zimbabwe



Marching to a Different Tune by Zimbabwean stone artist Taylor Nkomo

‘Marching to a Different Tune’  – Cubist sculpture by Zimbabwean stone artist Taylor Nkomo



Micheck-Makasa Foetus stone sculpture

Micheck Makasa – ‘Foetus’



Nicholas Mukomberanwa (Zimbabwean, b. 1940), 'The Law Givers' 1998-1999; Indianapolis Museum of Art

‘The Law Givers’ – Nicholas Mukomberanwa (Zimbabwean, b. 1940),

1998-1999; Indianapolis Museum of Art



Reflections - Ishmael Chitayo Abstract sculptural stone bust

‘Reflections’ – Ishmael Chitayo



Onward-Sango-Cobalt-Thinking-cubist sculpture

Onward Sango Cobalt – ‘Thinking’




Proud Virgin---Stephen Murenza outdoor Shona sculpture

‘Proud Virgin’ —Stephen Murenza



Passion by Sylvester Samanyanga - black stone carved sculpture

‘Passion’ by Sylvester Samanyanga




Mother and Child abstract Shona serpentine marble sculpture




Proud-Woman-Walter-Mariga shona serpentine stone sculpture

‘Proud Woman’ – Walter Mariga



shona-artist with his sculptor-in-Zimbabwe

Shona artist with his serpentine stone sculpture




Shona family sculpture-Zimbabwe

Family and Child – Shona sculpture



Three Women Shona-Sculptures---Van-Dusen-Gardens,-Vancouver--

Three Women Shona Sculpture — Van Dusen Gardens, Vancouver

Lorna flickr



Twin Females bust Shona-Sculptures---Van-Dusen-Gardens,-Vancouver-Lorna-flickr

Twin Females bust Shona sculpture—Van Dusen Gardens, Vancouver

Lorna flickr



Spirit-Owl-by-Nicholas-Mukomberanwa abstract stone sculpture

‘Spirit Owl’ by Nicholas Mukomberanwa




Shona sculpture—Van Dusen Gardens, Vancouver

Lorna flickr



Stephen-Murenza, sculture-2012---Photo-credits-Paul-Hodgkinson

Stephen Murenza, sculpture-2012


Photo credit Paul Hodgkinson



Shona sculpture—Van Dusen Gardens, Vancouver

Lorna flickr


African_Art_Shona_Sculpture_-_Samson_Kurehwatira - female figure stone

African Art Shona Sculpture – Samson Kurehwatira




‘Standing Bather’ –  Shona sculpture at Naples Botanical Garden



Tafunga-Bonjisi-Shona sculptor

Tafunga Bonjisi – Shona sculptor



Tender Love-by-Walter Mariga Sculpture of an embracing couple

‘Tender Love’ by Walter Mariga



Together We Stand by Authur Manyengedzo

‘Together We Stand’  by Authur Manyengedzo




Tonderai-Marezva-Abstract---opal-stone shona sculpture

Tonderai Marezva –  ‘Abstract’ — opal stone shona sculpture




Whale sculpture by Munyaradz Jeche - Marc Pether Longman-flickr

‘Whale’ sculpture by Munyaradz Jeche

Marc Pether Longman-flickr




Shona sculpture at Naples Botanical Garden Gray-Lensman-QX!--female bust

Shona female bust sculpture at Naples Botanical Garden, Italy

Gray Lensman QX! – flickr



Shona sculpture of bird on boys head at Naples Botanical Garden

Gray Lensman QX! – flickr




Tri legged handpainted ceramic goblet from Zimbabwe




Sources quoted –








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