BY SIMBARASHE RUSSEL SIYAKURIMA
Great exuberance and zeal was kindled amongst Zimbabwean sculptors nation-wide by the ‘2017 BROCK AWARD’ hosted by Artistic Africa in conjunction with and at the Chitungwiza Arts Centre from the 8th to the 15th of December 2017. For the very first time, such an auspicious occasion was hosted in Zimbabwe, rallying behind the theme, “For excellence in stone sculpting”. The competition came as a surprise and Christmas bonanza for indigenous local artists who substantially live on making art sculptures. The competition was a seven day contest, during which artists of various sculpting categories to include the disabled, women, children (15 years and below) First Generation artists, fine art, animals and contemporary – below and above 80 centimetres competed for first positions and the Grand Brocks Award.
Artistic Africa, an organization which endeavours to promote African art, was for the past seven months working tirelessly in collaboration with the Chitungwiza Arts Center and the National Arts Council of Zimbabwe through Mr Tigere (chairman for Chitungwiza Arts Centre) and his staff, to make the 2017 Brock Awards a flawless success. The main benefactors and sponsors, Amanda and Robert Brock realized the need to promote and give back to the Zimbabwean Art community through this event. According to Kim McDonald (a Zimbabwean art collector and dealer, also director of Artistic Africa) who was the director of ceremony, the event would not have been a success without the participation of the Brocks and Rick Lowe. Rick Lowe who is an American Art dealer, board member of the great Manill Museum regarded it a singular honour and paramount privilege to grace the occasion as the guest of honour.
Rick Lowe is profoundly involved in a project called “Row houses” which concentrates on helping American artists who live in row houses in the United States with their art. Similarly, Rick was esteemed to be part of the Brock Awards Ceremony, further on helping Africa through appreciation and purchase of sculptures “mumaraini emuZimbabwe” – Row houses in Zimbabwe according to his equation.
Invited guests for the occasion were the first generation artists, the pioneers of Shona Art of stone sculpting. The competition became a unifying factor as it united friends and families in celebration of cultural preservation and sustainable socio-economic development activities. The remarkable picture illustrated with all stakeholders gathered for the pomp, was a united artistic global village gleefully adopting cultural diversity, dynamism and international understanding.
Prior the official awards ceremony, spectators, local and international artists were deeply immersed in jovial and serious conversations with topical issues such as the probable prospective winners, the hopeful status quo for the art market following the political transition in Zimbabwe and the dire economic situation grossly affecting trade and transactions between Zimbabwe and the rest of the world. Amid an interview, Steven (an England based sculptor and multi-faceted artist) expressed his impression of Zimbabwean art as a form of art which is unalienable from creativity and survival. He believes in the immense innovation and ingenuity of Zimbabwean artists who have great survival instincts deeply embedded within their work. He also identifies sculpting in Zimbabwe as a sustainable development activity on its own. Steven wishes to establish an exhibition and gallery in the United Kingdom which will help transition the generality of the English society from what he calls a “medieval colonial aspect of appreciating African art as ‘art from the jungle’”, to a more crucial analysis and appreciation of it as an ideological apparatus. The Brock Awards gave Steven the honour to identify and to meet with people that share a similar belief such as Rick Lowe and Agrippa Tiregu.
In the same spirit of celebrating art in an Afrocentric atmosphere set by Mbira Dzenharira was Agrippa Tiregu, from Tengenenge Art Community, cordially expressing his gratitude for the occasion. Agrippa personally conforms to a principle of “ideas without frontiers”. He respects the first generation artists for introducing Shona Art but rather subscribes to the idea of calling it Zimbabwean Art which makes it more multi-cultural. Agrippa is overwhelmed by the ideals and support of Artistic Africa and such icons as Tom Blomefield who includes such categories as contemporary sculptures and fine art. The central idea which transcended through the occasion was the outline of art as an instrument of survival and harbouring memories and essential sentimental value.
To mark the beginning of the award ceremony, Rick Lowe gave the guest of honour’s speech. He started with a heart-felt gratitude to Amanda Brock for introducing him to exquisite Zimbabwean sculptures.
Rick had a phenomenal trip around Zimbabwe that exposed him to rare and breath-taking stone art. Tengenenge astounded this American artist the most by its ability to compromise and produce more from less. This served as an illustrious example of hardworking and committed artists that constitute Africa’s masterminds. In a description of the sculptors he said, “ a hard thing to do is to start something great but what’s harder is to keep it great; nevertheless sculptors herein have done both exceptionally”.
Conclusively Rick shared an expert’s words of advice, he urged the art community not only ‘to give the market what it wants, but ahead of that to teach it what it wants’. His basic idea was on the orientation of the art market to one that gets the best out them other than what it thinks is best.
The chairperson for the Chitungwiza Arts Center, Mr Tigere, shared remarks of gratification to the C.A.C staff for their work and exhibitions, the National Arts Council of Zimbabwe for their approval and finally the sponsors of the 2017 Brock Awards. The representative from the National Arts Council echoed the Chairperson’s sentiments and exclaimed that art had spoken.
After the strict and stringent adjudication of Sylvester Mubayi (first generation artist), Kim McDonald, Rick Lowe and Amanda Brock the winners of the US$13,000.00 as on the 15th of December 2017 were as follows:
- ALL first generation artists were awarded with the honourary award of $250.00.
- ALL children participants were given prize money $140.00 for participation.
- The honourary award had $140 prize money, third position had a small trophy and $200.00 prize money, second position a medium size trophy and $300.00 and the first position of every category had a large trophy and $500.00.
- Innovative and creativity awards had $250.00 prize money.
- The Grand Champion walked with the largest trophy and $2,500.00 prize money. The winners for the 2017 Brock Awards were:
1st Position: ROPAFADZO MUPARIWA
Honourary Award: AGNES MUPARIWA
3rd Position: ANGASA AMALI
2nd Position: DORCAS MATEMASANGO
1 ST Position: PELAGIA MUTYAVAVIRI
Honourary Award: SHADRECK CHATSAMA
3rd Position: TRACY CHATSAMA
2nd Position: SHEPHERD MUVIRIMI
1st Position: SMART MUMVURWI
Honourary Award: TENDEKAI THANDI
3rd Position: SHEPHERD DEVE
2nd Position: TENDAI CHAREKA
1st Positiion: TAURAI MAISIRI
Honourary Award: ELLIOT KUTOMBERA
3rd Position: SEKESAI MANGENJA
2nd Position: FARAI MANGENJA
1st Position: JOHN GWARAVAZA
CONTEMPORARY ART BELOW 80cm:
Honourary Award: WASHINGTON NYANHONGO
3rd Position: DOUGLAS CHAMU
2nd Position: ITAI MUPUMHA
1st Position: GODFREY MUTUKIRA
CONTEMPORARY ART ABOVE 80cm:
Honourary Award: CHENJERAI CHIRIPANYANGA
3rd Position: MUFARO MUREZA
2nd Position: ISAAC CHOLOKA
1st Position: KUDAKWASHE MADAMOMBE
2017 BROCKS AWARDS GRAND CHAMPION:
KUDAKWASHE PROSPER MADAMOMBE
Closing off the ceremony, Kim McDonald quoted an excerpt from the book, ‘Sculptors of
Zimbabwe’, from an extract of The New York Times as of 14 April 1968, which said, “ …
reflections of reflections of reflections”. The 2017 Brock Awards were indeed a reflection on Shona Art, a reflection of first generation artists, a reflection of the bridge between the generational difference of modern culture and contemporary art… a reflection of Zimbabwean Stone Art.