Travel restrictions in the wake of the Covid 19 pandemic has left sculptors struggling for markets. This is largely because their products are brought mostly by tourists and art enthusiasts who travel from different countries, especially in Europe. The pandemic saw airlines being grounded, most tourism destinations closing down, while art centers were barely operational.

Tendai Maringire, who operates in Hatfield said he was struggling to fend for his family. “We usually sell most of our art during summer starting from August, but this has been a very tough year since there are no tourists coming”, he said.

“This has left me struggling to feed my children and pay my bills and rentals.” Airlines are expected to resume services to Zimbabwe starting today when the country re-opens its ports following closure as part of Covid-19 restrictions. “The number of arrivals has not been encouraging, maybe because the pandemic affected many peoples’ pockets as well as planning for travels since everything has been unpredictable,” said Maringire.

Though many physical galleries are struggling, online marketing offers solace to artists in stone trade. The country’s first virtual sculpture gallery, AVAC Arts, is encouraging artists to utilize their platforms to sell their sculptures.

“We have been working with sculptors for quite a long time now, and business has been good for both us and the artistes we represent,’ said AVAC Arts Director Terrence Tawanda Musiyiwa. The virtual space works with over 15 artists who are supplied with material and tools operating at Musiyiwa’s house.

There are over 300 other sculptors working from different areas. Some of the big names working with the gallery include veteran sculptor Kennedy Musekiwa and first generation sculptor Sylvester Mubayi.

AVAC Arts was recently featured on BBC as one of the initiatives that is developing local art. “We want to expand our business to include more artists from across the country,” said Terrence Tawanda Musiyiwa. “We are also diversifying to include paintings and drawings”.

Extract from The Herald, 1 October 2020



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