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Roy Guthrie, the visionary behind Chapungu Sculpture Park, passed away at 89. He leaves behind a profound generational impact on the Zimbabwean arts and culture sector. His legacy endures.

Guthrie, a titan in the promotion of Zimbabwean Shona sculpture, left an indelible mark on the global art scene with his efforts to showcase African talent. His death was announced by Chapungu Sculpture Park through a heartfelt social media post, acknowledging his monumental contributions and the deep loss felt by his family and the art community.

Legacy of a Luminary
Roy Guthrie’s journey began in 1980 when he established Chapungu Sculpture Park, turning it into a sanctuary for Zimbabwean stone sculpture and a platform for artists to gain international recognition. Under his guidance, Chapungu became synonymous with excellence in Shona sculpture, hosting significant exhibitions worldwide and amassing a prestigious collection. Notably, Guthrie’s work transcended borders, bringing Zimbabwean art to audiences in the US, Germany, France, the Netherlands, and South Africa. His dedication not only elevated the profile of Zimbabwean sculpture but also ensured that the artists and their families benefited significantly from their creations.

Remembering Roy Guthrie
The news of Guthrie’s passing has reverberated through the art world, prompting tributes from prominent figures and institutions. Sport, Recreation, Arts and Culture Minister Kirsty Coventry expressed her condolences, emphasizing Guthrie’s passion for nurturing artistic talent. Similarly, the National Gallery of Zimbabwe (NGZ) mourned the loss, with board chair retired Justice Mafiosi Cheda and executive director Raphael Chikukwa acknowledging Guthrie’s pivotal role in the art community. His legacy is celebrated not only for his contributions to art but also for his profound impact on the lives of countless artists and their families.

Terrence Musiyiwa the founder of AVAC Arts also acknowledged the impact that Roy had on him as an art promoter. “I remember the first ncounter I had with stone sculpture art. It was around 1989 at the Chapunga Sculpture Park. Then it was a vibrant art centre full of life and activities. Sadly the atmosphere and feeling eentually died down over the years. I do not think in Zimbabwe up to now there has ever been anything next to the Chapungu Sculpture Park. We are hoping to create almost a similar vibe in Victoria Falls over the next coming year or so. I feel honoured to have met him and spent time with him. He was a patriotic Zimbabwean at heart who helped many first generation artists to build a global audience and acquire houses. May his soul rest in peace.”

A Global Tribute
Guthrie’s vision extended beyond Zimbabwe’s borders, making him a respected figure in international art circles. His endeavors led to widespread acclaim for Zimbabwean stone sculpture, establishing a global market and appreciation for African art. Chapungu Sculpture Park, under his stewardship, became a beacon of cultural pride and artistic achievement. As the art community mourns Guthrie’s loss, his legacy is poised to endure, inspiring future generations to appreciate and continue the tradition of Zimbabwean sculpture.

As we reflect on Roy Guthrie’s remarkable life and contributions, it’s clear that his passion for art and dedication to artists has left an indelible mark on the world. His vision transformed Chapungu Sculpture Park into a global showcase of Zimbabwean talent, bridging cultures and bringing African art to the forefront of the international stage. Guthrie’s legacy will continue to inspire and influence the art community, ensuring that the beauty and depth of Zimbabwean sculpture are cherished worldwide. In remembering Guthrie, we celebrate not just an individual but a visionary who saw art as a means to connect, uplift, and transform.

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