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HISTORY OF METAL SCULPTURE IN ZIMBABWE

During the 1960s, certain metal sculptures are recorded as having been exhibited in the National Gallery during group shows by artists such as Arthur Azevedo and R.E. Davison.

 

The first exhibition wholly of metal sculpture in the former Rhodesia was held in 1972 in the National Gallery, then under the directorship of Frank McEwen. In the same year, the Musee Rodin in Paris hosted a now legendary exhibition of Zimbabwean stone sculpture and it can only be postulated how McEwen might have continued to affect the progress of metal sculpture in the then Rhodesia, had he remained in his post beyond 1973.

 

His introductory comments in the catalogue stress his opinion that this competition could allow "infinite freedom of expression". Many of the entrants (aged as young as 8 years old) at that time were sculpting for the first time and entries are recorded from artists of European and African heritage.

 

The next Scrap Iron exhibition was held in 1973 and the final one in 1976. These exhibitions were dominated by the acknowledged father of metal sculpture in Zimbabwe, Arthur Azevedo, who was awarded first prize in both 1972 and 1973.

 

In 1979 to coincide with the 50th anniverary of the sponsors, Oxygen Industries (Pvt.) Ltd (later 'Oxyco'), the exhibition dedicated to metal sculpture was renamed WeldArt and a further five exhibitions under this name were held biannually until 1989.

 

In 1989 separate awards for metal sculpture were inaugurated in the annual Zimbabwe Heritage exhibition, encouraging many young artists to work in the medium.

 

A collection of metal sculptures, some of which are featured in this website, were brought to the UK and exhibited in London, Aberdeen, Bristol, Belfast, Liverpool and Billingham at various times during the 1990s.