Exciting Historical Exhibition: Collection of Traditional Shona Sculptures

By Edone Anne Logan

‘The Yawn Dog’, ‘The Mighty Eagle’ and ‘Hongwe’s Ponder’ are a few of the fascinating titles given to Jonathan Matimba’s traditional Shona sculptures that are enriching the display at the Rhodes Nyanga Historical Museum. The late Jonathan Matimba is one of the three most famous and influential stone and wood carvers of the 1950s and ‘60s.

‘Seed Pod’, ‘Morning Love’ and ‘Flying Dream’ describe some of the modern pieces of work, crafted by our Nyanga and Claremont sculptors, giving an interesting contrast to the onlooker. Most of the modern artists are sons or grandsons of famous sculptors of the last century: Joram Mariga, Manyandure, Takawira, Sande and Chaudiringa, many of whom were brought up in the Nyatate area of Nyanga North, and sold their work locally and overseas.

At the Official Opening of the Exhibition on 13th August 2018, Mr Naboth Muchopa enthusiastically introduced Dr Jonathan Zilberg.

Dr. Zilberg is Associate Research Scholar at The Centre of African Studies, University of Illinois, gave an exhilarating talk on the history of Nyanga sculpture, mentioning the importance of women such as Miriam Mbwaburi, who sold woven reed mats at the local hotels in the ‘50s. Miriam was encouraged by the Rural Council to establish the Nyanga Craft Village and to invite potters and sculptors to join her.

Dr. Zilberg explained to the audience, which consisted of local folk, sculptors and their families, some important points which make sculptures appealing to buyers.  During the weekend he spoke with many of the artists, encouraging them and giving helpful advice.

 Dr.Zilberg

A record number of visitors took advantage of the Open Day by touring the Museum, and enjoyed the refreshments. This special exhibition has been extended from the intended closure on the 14th August 2018. The Matimba family is happy to leave the work at the Museum for a few months.

The idea and inspiration for the exhibition came about thanks to Dr. Zilberg, who visited Zimbabwe last year and made us more aware of the wealth of talent  – historical and modern – which we have in our area.  On a trip into the Nyatate area, north of Nyanga, we were grateful to have be introduced to one of Jonathan Matimba’s sons, Munetsi who took us to the Matimba homestead where Mrs Matimba is still alive. You can just imagine our surprise when we arrived there and saw the extraordinary wooden sculptures. Then, even more amazingly, Munetsi dug his hands down into his granary and started pulling out his fathers’ stone sculptures. He told us that his father, Joram Mariga and Bernard Manyandure had gone to school up the road at Mt Mellory Mission School and that they had all learnt to carve there.

The family agreed to let us display some of Jonathan’s works for as long as we wish, in order that they can be seen and appreciated by the public.  The transport of the works of art from the Matimba’s homestead was kindly made possible by a donation from Mr Rob Burrett.

The discovery of this unique collection and this being the first exhibition of the artist’s works is of great significance and of national historical interest. We are very proud and privileged to display these rare early pieces of art for public enjoyment.

Unique exhibition of Shona Sculpture: Invitation to the official opening and address by Dr Jonathan Zilberg, PhD.

Rhodes  Nyanga  Historical  Exhibition

(Rhodes Museum, Nyanga)

is proud to present an

EXHIBITION   OF   SHONA   SCULPTURE

View the unique exhibition of stone and wooden

carvings and sculptures by Nyanga’s

Jonathan Matimba

(1940-2013)

and modern-day sculptures by artists from the Nyanga Craft Centre, Claremont and

World’s View Sculptor groups.

The Exhibition will be open from

Friday 10th to Tuesday 14th August (8 am -5 pm)

Entry to Museum and Exhibition – Adults $2, Children $1

OFFICIAL OPENING AND ADDRESS

by Dr Jonathan Zilberg, PhD.

Associate Research Scholar at Centre

for African Studies, University of Illinois.

10 am, Monday, 13th August, 2018.

ALL ARE WELCOME !

Free Entry on Monday 13th August. This includes a tour of the Museum.     Teas available.

 

La Rochelle Organics Project Update


We are very pleased to report that the herb farm training centre at our La Rochelle property has seen the establishment of 10 hectares of ‘field test’ of organic herbs. The trials are well on their way and fast expanding. The project presents an exciting opportunity for ensuring the economic viability of La Rochelle, training and supporting small scale farmers, caring for the environment and raising the profile of the NTZ regionally.

Please find below links to two articles that have been published recently about the project:

  • The Herald: ‘Herb, spice export boost for province’

www.herald.co.zw/herb-spice-export-boost-for-province and

–              INTO Farms:‘La Rochelle Country House’

https://intofarms.org/la-rochelle-country-house

Happy reading!

Exciting New Exhibition: Collection of Traditional Shona Sculptures

The Rhodes Nyanga Historical  Exhibition is excited to announce that the museum display has been enlarged and enriched by the addition of a wonderful collection of traditional Shona Sculptures by Jonathan Matimba, one of the three most famous and influential stone and wood carvers of the 1950s and ‘60s.  This has come about thanks to Dr Jonathan Zilberg, who visited Zimbabwe last year and made us more aware of the wealth of talent  – historical and modern – which we have in our area.

On a trip into the Nyatate area, north of Nyanga, we were grateful to has as our guide, one of Jonathan Matimba’s sons, Munetsi, who has kept in touch with us.  The family offered some months ago, to let us display some of Jonathan’s works for as long as we wish, in order that they can be seen and appreciated by the public.  If interest is shown in purchasing any of the pieces, the prices will be available.

The transport of the works of art from the Matimba’s homestead was kindly made possible by a donation from Mr Rob Burrett.

The sculptures are now on display in the Wagon Shed.  We are awaiting a full history of the life of the artist and the titles and explanations of the meanings and inspiration behind each work of art.

Members of three of the main  modern-day  Nyanga stone sculptor groups have been invited to bring one piece of work each to display along with Matimba’s work for the duration of the long weekend: 10th-15th August 2018. Please do join us: we would love to share our new collection with you.

Annual report April 2017 – March 2018

May I begin with a complimentary paragraph taken from a report written by Archeologist/Teacher/Historian/Editor, Mr Rob Burrett, after  a visit to RNHE and World’s View in April, 2017.

Since my last visit in April 2014 the RNHE has expanded by leaps and bounds, both in quantity of material displayed and the quality of its content. It is becoming one of the more important historical depositories in the country. The team that has put it together must be commended for an excellent job. I was delighted to see the large number of visitors who were there the day I visited it (Easter Saturday 15th April 2017). It was diverse in ethnicity and age. The interest being shown by the African population is especially gratifying. We hope that this will encourage them to become more actively involved as this heritage belongs to us all and their engagement will ensure the long-term viability of the project”… We thank Rob for this encouragement and advice, and financial assistance when most needed.

Over the past year we have had two visits from Mr Scott and NTZ Councillors, all of whom have been helpful and supportive throughout.  In June Dr. Jonathan Zilberg, an authority on the history of  Shona Sculpture , visited Nyanga and spoke to members of the Committee on the well-known Nyanga Sculptors of the last century.  We were able to visit the homes of these men and meet family members.  This has led to an offer by the son of one sculptor to let us use some of his father’s work to display in the museum.

                                                                                            Dr. Jonathan Zilberg

Another important visitor was Dr Ines Grainger who came to view the Don Grainger Reading and Research Room, and tour the Exhibition.  Dr Grainger was happy with the freshly painted Room and mended ceiling, kindly renovated by Parks.

Dr. Ines Grainger chats with Curator Marshall Nyanhanda

In June Rob Burrett again spent time in the area, partly assisted by SOLON Foundation, undertaking field work at some isolated Nyanga schools, and speaking to teachers and senior students on the importance of  their cultural heritage.  He was able to explore heritage sites and give advice on protecting the sites.

                Archaeologist Rob Burrett discusses a field trip to pit structures in Cumberland Valley with Johnny Stockdale

Recently the focus of our Committee has changed slightly from purely improving and enlarging the Historical Exhibition, to encouraging Cultural Heritage projects in local schools. We were delighted in November when a presentation of our 2015 heritage project was made by NTZ at the International National Trust Conference in Bali, and was voted the best project!  This encouraged us to participate in a Cross-borders Heritage Project with Uganda and Sierra Leone, which involved school children using their cell phones to take short video clips of any heritage or traditional activity.  This was well supported by the schools, and thanks to a crowd- funding appeal through INTO, we were able to give monitory prizes to individuals and Heritage Clubs which produced the best videos.

The most important and challenging display undertaken by the Committee last year was the Zimbabwe Time Line.  All Members participated, each researching a 30-year period, and we now have on display 5 periods from BC until 1980.  The last period – 1980 to the present day, has been researched and written up for us by the teachers and pupils of the History Department of St. Monica’s High School.  We are looking forward to completing the Time Line with this excellent conclusion.

                                                

 Josephine Machopa displaying the 1920 – 1950 timeline                   June Weeks, Dalray Bailey and Merle Moore working on                                                                                                                                    the  Zimbabwe Timeline

 Naboth Machopa Organising the 1950-1980 display

Great interest is being shown already by the many school children who visit the museum.

                     

Two young visitors in the Children’s section                       Visiting students in front of the Victorian section

Various displays have been moved and up-dated.  A section on saddelry and horses is being created with donations from members of the community.  More valuable books have been donated to the Reading Room. We are grateful to all members of public who give interesting and historic articles to display.

The RNHE signage has been renewed, thanks to NTZ.  The garden is looking lovely with new lavender replacing the old plants, plumbago flowering well outside the wagon shed, protea planted in the beds and generally a good make-over by Dal Bailey.

Before closing this report I wish to express my appreciation to Mrs Merle Moore, Vice-Chairman, who is holding the reins this year, organising special events with the support of the Committee Members and dealing with problems, correspondence and the general  running of the museum.  Marshall Nyanhanda is keeping the exhibits, buildings and wash-rooms clean and tidy and also dealing with the visitors, including large groups of school children, extremely well. Mr Geoff Hawksley holds the purse strings and somehow manages to pay our monthly expenses in this difficult financial climate.

To each and every Member and Ex-Officio Member, I wish to express sincere gratitude for your support and friendship – and hard work.

Edone A Logan.

Chairman RNHE

Annual Report April 2017 – March 2018

   

In late 2017 a unique Public Private Partnership (PPP) was established and the Trust signed a 50 year Notarial lease for La Rochelle for the establishment of the following:

  • Agricultural Training centre
  • Accommodation for training centre and
  • Expansion of country house

The PPP is in synergy with the vision of the NTZ and La Rochelle Organics (Organic Africa) and their business partners have a very good reputation for looking after the environment and being socially responsible in their business operations.  Needless to say the project presents an exciting opportunity for ensuring the economic viability of La Rochelle, training and supporting small scale farmers, caring for the environment and raising the profile of the NTZ regionally.

Based on the positive feedback in response to the new management of the property and the upgrading that has taken place, there is enormous potential for growth. This past year has been a busy and eventful one for La Rochelle and we are very happy with how far we have come in working towards our end goals and vision for the “La Rochelle Project”.

The property consists of three main sections: The hotel and Beauty Spa, the grounds and the new organic herb farm. Here are some of the highlights of the year:

Country House Boutique Hotel and Beauty Spa

  • A research programme was undertaken in December 2017 and January 2018 to determine attitudes to and understanding of the property in order to obtain information that is useful in planning longer-term future strategy for the venue;
  • Occupancy greatly improved with an average occupancy rate of 40%;
  • The hotel successfully hosted the following events:
  • 10 conferences with top corporates such as Old Mutual, TelOne, ZIMPLATS, Pearl Properties, IDBZ and more;
  • Bird courses, vintage car rally, art retreat, jazz evening, food and wine pairings, educational workshops and four weddings;
  • A series of musical events were performed by the Peterhouse instrumental group and the Iona Jones Singers of the Phoenix Choir;
  • A thatched rondavel was upgraded to house the beauty Spa adjacent to the swimming pool area.

The treatments on offer have been reorganized and the spa now offers a wider range that includes:  Swedish Massage, Hot Stone Massage, Indian Head Massage, Facials and a Deluxe Manicure/Pedicure.

 

African Apothecary products that are 100% organic and natural products are used for treatments.

  • Work on identifying and recording the signatures etched on the famous windows continues, the result will be of great historical significance and will result in a publication;
  • The well-known Tjaart Walraven, famous South African chef and judge on the popular show SA Bake Off, came to train the catering staff and new menus;
  • The coffee shop area was renovated and extended outside on the patio area;
  • High-tea’s in the garden or lunch in the Chinese Pergoda were introduced in the 20ha arboretum, a tranquil venue  set amongst exotic trees with a breathtaking view towards the forested mountains on the Mozambique border.

Estate Grounds

  • Further improvements were completed to the orchid house;
  • The very rare Lady Virginia Orchid flowered again. It flowered for the first time in 2016 after 40 years of not flowering. The Courtauld’s discovered the rare species and kept it in their greenhouse at Eltham Palace, London. When their greenhouse was destroyed in the Second World War, only a tiny piece of the orchid remained which miraculously they were able to identify and save and it is now on show in the Orchid House;

  • Visitors are enjoying exploring the extensive grounds that are continually being improved upon;
  • New trails have been established for hiking, biking and horse riding;
  • Volley ball and croquet facilities were created;
  • A petting farm was opened;
  • The dam was restored; children can paddle in the dam, go fishing and boating;
  • The large swimming pool was restored.

Organic Herb Farm

The herb farm training centre has seen the establishment of 10 hectares of ‘field test’ of organic herbs and the trials are well on their way and fast expanding. Herbs that have been planted include Lemon Verbena, Peppermint, Chilli,  Chamomile, Lemon balm, Fennel, Stinging Nettle, Safflower, Calendula, Caraway, Tulsi, Basil, Thyme, Dandelion, two varieties of Ginger, and three varieties of Turmeric Anise  and many have seen their first harvest. Visitors to the hotel can now wader down to the farm and pick fresh herbs to make a cup of herbal tea or pick a few to garnish a sun downer drink with.

The trials were conducted by Mr Dominik Collenberg who holds a Master’s Degree in Organic Farming and Master’s Degree in Economics of Development which means that he has the expertise to implement the project. He is the Director of Organic Africa a company who focus on organic production and are the only company certified in organic fair trade products in Zimbabwe. They are also the only company in southern Africa whereby its small scale farmers have their land certified and so are able to produce high quality herbs.

   

Melissa                                                                       Chilli

     

Calendula growing under acacia tree                    Lemon Verbena

   

                                                                                    Fennel

Organic Africa works extensively with all their producers to help them attain Ethical Biotrade, Organic and Fair Trade certification. An export market was secured for the crops by a leading herbal tea producer based in Europe.

Since September 2017, the farm has trained some 3,889 farmers (2377 female and 1512 male).  47 of them comprised 4 farm managers and 42 contract farmers.

Future plans include the building of a regional agricultural college to train small scale farmers, mainly women, on how to grow crops without using chemicals or fertilisers and how to make compost according to strict organic global regulations.

We are proud to report that the year has been a busy and successful one overall.

 

 

 

 

Annual Report: April 2017 to March 2018

The mountain experienced a very wet start to 2017, with rainfall for the season (to March 2017) of over 1700mm and all three Connemara Lakes are again full and spilling furiously.  The torrential rains  flooded the car park – it dried out gradually and reopened after some filling and levelling.  The 2m wide x 30m long contour ridge that we dug at the base of Nyamutoro (World’s View Mountain) thankfully, prevented a more serious situation.

In preparation for the 2018 rains extensive ground-work was undertaken to prevent any further flooding.  Pits and trenches  were dug and backfilled to channel the rainwater away from the car park and down to the western slopes of the site.  The rains brought on an abundance of wild flowers and the site is looking stunning.

But, this is in stark contrast to the land outside the fence, where there is evidence of the damage and degradation caused by the cattle that are driven up the mountain to graze.  It is our intention to, once again, petition the powers that be, to stop these cattle coming up the mountain and left unattended night and day. Up to now our complaints and those of the Board of Little Connemara have not been heard.  The loss of the flora, fauna and birdlife that once inhabited the area is also of great concern: this due 100% to not only the overgrazing by cattle but also the ‘outsiders’ who come with their packs of hunting dogs, under the pretence of ‘looking for their cattle’, meanwhile they are carrying axes, clubs and catapults.

The Little Connemara Estate was declared a bird and wildlife sanctuary some years ago but all the land on the outside of the circular drive that surrounds the Connemara Lakes was acquired by Government in 2002 for eco-tourism.  The conservation of the area has been totally neglected since then.  Snares are constantly being found and removed by walkers and the Connemara residents. The firebreaks are not maintained and some of the land has been given over to potato growers who have exasperated the situation by ploughing and interfering with the natural springs that occur on the areas designated to them.

A large landslide beneath the World’s View toposcope occurred on a path made by the cattle coming up the eastern slopes. Ground cover being reduced through localised overgrazing and trampling has greatly increased the risk of further landslides due to the soil losing the ability to ‘hold’.  There are some further sections that look like they may ‘go’ as well, as some large ‘cracks’ in the soil are apparent adjacent to the original fall. The upper slopes leading to the summit of Nyamutoro and some parts of the lower fenced area of the site are constantly being cleared of pine and other invasive species. It is an on-going exercise to keep on top of this problem but Matirina with chainsaw and the caretakers with machetes have put paid to hundreds of these invaders and the larger trees have been felled and cross cut as firewood for use in the caretakers’ wood stove.

Renovations and extensions to the staff housing reached completion mid-year.  It was a busy time with builders, carpenters and plumbers all working on site at the same time.  The old ‘long drop’ was replaced with a flush toilet and new shower area created so consequently new piping had to be laid and a new soak away dug at the bottom of the caretakers’ garden.  A large French drain was laid at the top of the vegetable garden to take the grey water and help to keep their vegetables watered during the dry season.   Instead of using the local stone we decided to do the extensions in brick/plaster to stay in keeping with the original structure.  This has worked well and resulted in a neat and handsome little building.  An additional window has been fitted to the back bedroom.

The new veranda is sheltered by a shoulder high wall to give protection from the wind and a second wood burning stove installed.  All internal rooms have been fitted with ceiling boards to stop condensation forming and the old inside kitchen has been turned into a sitting room.  Luke and Arthur are delighted with their new home and have asked me to convey their thanks to the National Trust for upgrading their accommodation. They both worked over and above their normal hours to assist in this project and we are grateful to have such dedicated staff in our service.

A new 35m length of picket fencing replaced the old and rotting one along the road boundary which has enhanced that aspect tremendously. A pole fence has been constructed on the inner boundary, hedging planted and a ‘Staff Only’ sign put on the gate.

For the second consecutive year, yet another of our stone gate posts was ‘taken out’ by a bus, followed by an angry bull who ripped the wooden entrance gate into several pieces. Fortunately he was spotted and escorted off the property with his many lady friends before too much damage was done to the gardens!

The 4th picnic table and benches have been completed and an upgrade to their surrounds has been achieved by new planting of azaleas and a bit of further landscaping on the terrace below.  It is rewarding to see the fruits of our labours coming to bear at last, the gardens are full of interesting beds that have now filled out and provide an array of different flowers throughout the seasons, although not all the plants are of an indigenous nature, they provide colour and interest for our many visitors.

There was a drop off in visitors from September due to the ‘cash crisis’ and fear of harassment by police at road blocks.  However, since mid-November this has greatly improved and we have introduced an Ecocash system that works well.

June Weeks continues to bring us aloe cuttings which are being planted along the escarpment.  An old cattle track coming up the eastern slopes (now fenced), has caused considerable erosion, so to combat this a large semi-circular stairway using local stone, has been constructed.  This will make a great spot for large groups wanting to picnic and enjoy the scenery.

A very successful ‘ Carols by Sunset’ was arranged on Christmas eve by Lindsay Lees May, manageress at Little Connemara and Pam and Dave Lee and family, residents of the estate.  Word sheets and Christmas pies were handed out, the rain held off and ‘the hills were alive with the sound of music’.

In 2018 the professional services of Mr Jakob Raath to undertake an ecological study of the World’s View area was commissioned.  The overall aim is to have a database of ecological resources relevant to the area for posterity as well as being an aid in planning and making future recommendations for our site and environs.

Phase I, the pilot study, was completed in January. Jakob returned to site to complete Phase II mid March. The aims of Phase II were to expand on the activities begun earlier as well as collect plants not seen flowering at the time of Phase I.  New areas of the NTZ environs were sampled and more data about the overall environmental health of the area were gathered.

In addition, an extra 2 volunteer days were spent removing the vegetation from the ruins above the car park to expose the sections of walling for future archaeological work. The removal of the vegetation was done in a methodical manner, taking care to cause minimal impact.  We had no idea of the extent of these ‘on-site’ ruins until  Jacob, with the help of Matirina and Luke, discovered that the ruins  are much more extensive than first thought.  We look forward to the return of Rob Burrett to take his archaeological study further.

More of Jacob’s finding on the adjacent land to the south of the World’s View site, reveal  that in this unique area a potential ecological disaster is in the making. Steps are being taken to have this area placed under protection.

As recommended by Rob Burrett, a sign at the start of the path leading to the summit has been placed to make climbers aware of the conditons that may await them.  Mist can decende in minutes so it is adviseable to keep to the footpath and to keep a watchful eye for baboon activity.

Our little ‘Plant Sales’ section is doing well and visitors are delighted to be able to buy plants that they can see in flower in our gardens.  We continue to support Valhalla Nursery in Juliasdale for the azaleas and hydrangeas and Mrs Dalrae Bailey, also of Juliasdale, has become a recent supplier of well established protea plants.

Landscaping and planting the kopje to the south of the toposcope is complete and the first flowering of the Kirstenbosch proteas graced the kopje.  Mr Michael Tucker kindly donated two hardwood benches which were commissioned.   We are immensely grateful for this donation and the benches will be the crowning glory of the kopje.

The following are some quote from our visitor’s book which are worthy of mention ………

I’m going to die a happy man – even more proud to be Zimbabwean after visiting this place with my family. Thanks to the hardworking guys for maintaining this awesome place”’ Lional Takawira, Guildord, Surrey, UK.

This is one of the few places in Zimbabwe still intact and looking lovely as always”. Chervonna Gororo, Harare.

“A real gem, the best kept place in Zimbabwe”. Kate Hurst, Stellenbosch, RSA

A return after more than 20 years and I really loved the re-visitation. More beautiful and extraordinary than I remember. Thank you for keeping it well”. Gynthia Baloyi, Ohio, USA.

We haven’t been to World’s View in years and have been amazed at the beauty and tidiness. The toilets must be the most beautiful and functional in Zimbabwe”.  Snick Nkomo, Harare.

One can see God’s hand at work here’. ……….  Someone has kindly added in bold black capitals – ‘with a little help from NTZ!’

 

Gill Honeyman

World’s View

March 2018

 

 

 

Rhodes Nyanga Historical Exhibition Opens A New Exhibit

The museum is proud to announce its latest project: the opening of a new exhibit entitled “Zimbabwe Time Line”which depicts salient historical events related to Zimbabwe during the period from BC to 1980.

All Council Members participated, each researching a 30-year period, and we now have on display five periods from BC until 1980.

Josephine Machopa organising the 1920-1950 exhibit 

June Weeks, Dalray Bailey and Merle Moore                     

Naboth Machopa organising the 1950-1980 exhibit

The last period:  1980 to the present day, has been researched and written up for us by the teachers and pupils of the History Department of St. Monica’s High School.

Great interest is being shown already by the many school children who visit the museum.

Offering New Perspectives On Our World and It’s Cultures

        

The 16th May 2018 marked a momentous occasion for the National Gallery of Zimbabwe (NGZ) when an event to greet three Old Italian Master paintings, that had been on loan from the Permanent Collection, were returned back from the UK namely:  “Patriarch” and Astronomer” by Paolo Veronese and “The King of Poland being welcomed by the Doge of Venice” by Andrea Piazza. The works are dated from the Late Renaissance to the Baroque. The three artworks are of the zenithal degree and have been an integral part of the NGZ’s Permanent Collection’s lineament of Global Art History.

For the past 21 years the paintings were housed at Eltham Palace, a royal residence from the 14th to the 16th century and the childhood home of King Henry VIII of Tudor. The Palace is located in Greenwich near London and administered by a charity called English Heritage who manage and conserve over 400 historic buildings and sites in the UK. The Tudorian mansion was re-designed to the Modernist tastes of Sir Stephen and Lady Virginia Courtauld when they took up residence in the 1930’s, then twenty years later, in the 1950’s they retired in Zimbabwe.

During the restoration of the Eltham Palace, the Director of Museums and Collections of the English Heritage requested to borrow the three master paintings for display. After years of correspondence, the works finally arrived in London on the 6th of July 1999 from Zimbabwe. They were hung in the Italian Drawing Room where they were originally when Sir Stephen and his wife lived there. The paintings thematically cohering to the eloquence of the space, evoking Renaissance zeal to the mise en scène in which they were housed.

 Eltham Palace

The loan of the artworks made them accessible to new audiences who were able to be inspired, learn and enjoy. Galleries are committed to making their collection widely available to museums and galleries around the world and supporting important exhibitions. Collections are a valuable public resource, reflecting the generosity of past and current donors and public investment in their continued care and development. Borrowing and lending are the lifeblood of gallery outreach programmes, offering new perspectives on our world and its cultures, and the sharing of collections, contributes to their interpretation and increases the benefit they can provide for the public.

The return of these artworks back into the NGZ’s Permanent Collection has a basis of association between a triumvirate of institutions with a common Patron. The benefactor being Sir Stephen Courtauld who was born in the UK in 1883 was a soldier, philanthropist and heir of the English wealthy Courtauld family of textile industrialists. Sir Stephen directed his interests to the advancement of the Arts, not only in the United Kingdom, but all over the world. When Sir Stephen and Lady Virgina retired to Zimbabwe they built a French style tower and house, with Welsh slate roof tiles in the beautiful Imbeza Valley, Penhalonga.

  La Rochelle Country Estate which is now a leading boutique hotel

Throughout the span of his life, as his family before him, he led a life that was inarguably non-conformist and an example of his pursuit for social justice can be seen at La Rochelle. A window at the house has inscribed within it, the names and signatures of scores of revolutionaries who sought abode there, en route to Mozambique during the Second Chimurenga. Arguably, being a military man himself, bequeathing wealth and artwork to what was then the National Gallery of Rhodesia; one marvel’s at the man’s nobility in his dichotomous support of needs of all within that body politic that was all embracing to cultural diversity.

Sir Stephen was a keystone in the establishment of the NGZ. Throughout the inception process, the opening and the development of the institution, Sir Stephen applied great fervour to the functionality of the organization to such a degree he was appointed the Chairman Emeritus until the time of his passing. The couple, who died in 1967 and 1972 respectively, became the first patrons of the gallery and donated La Rochelle to the National Trust of Zimbabwe. In his Will all beneficiary institutions were to freely distribute artworks between themselves for the enjoyment and enrichment of the cultural lives of the Public wherever he donated artworks. His legacy and foresight led to the loan of the paintings to Eltham Palace.

At the ‘welcome home’ reception for the paintings an excited audience gathered, appropriately, in the Courtauld Gallery at the NGZ for the celebrations. The backdrop for the official event was the exquisite painting entitled: “The King of Poland being received by the Doge of Venice” by Andrea Piazza.

“The King of Poland being received by the Doge of Venice” by Andrea Piazza.

The painting captures the King’s festive entry that took place on July 18 1574. The waterscape of the middle ground is festooned with gondolas navigating the Grand Canal as they shift towards the eye to dock before reception by the court and High Society of Venice. The linear perspective of the composition shifts the eye towards the vanishing point, where atop, the Saints watch the events unwrapping below with approval, the veneer in this section establishing the painter’s exquisite application of chiaroscuro wherein the darker tones of the foreground express the aggregation’s earthiness and mortality.

The proceedings began with Mr Raphael Chikukwa, Deputy Director, Chief Curator on behalf of the NGZ welcomed the return of the three Italian masters paintings and acknowledged the presence of the Director of the British Council Mrs S Harvey and all other distinguished guests. He said that this was a unique event in so many ways that started when the Executive Director and himself visited the UK and had the opportunity to meet with the Courthauld Institute then follow through with various discussions until it was agreed that these important artworks be returned to Zimbabwe.

The artworks were originally left to the NGZ by Sir Stephen who also donated a lot of funds to establish and support many institutions in Zimbabwe that included the construction of the NGZ, which we are all enjoying today as Zimbabwean’s. Sir Stephen also donated his entire old masters collection to the NGZ. So I would say he was our biggest philanthropist in this country and for us as the NGZ we were one of the biggest beneficiaries of his donations.  Mr Chikukwa asked for an acknowledgement for the late Sir Stephen and for the legacy that he left behind.

 From left to right: Mr D Scott, Mr R Chikukwa and Mr Roberto Franceschinis

He added that there are a number of philanthropists in the world but Sir Stephen was a rare one whose work can be seen through these paintings. He thanked the NGZ committee for being able to put up such up historic exhibition which also called upon local Zimbabwean artists who took up the call to collaborate and participate by creating works especially to welcome the three paintings home.

He explained how Mrs Lillian Chaonwa, the Conservation Manager went to the UK to personally oversee the packaging and transportation of the paintings from the UK to the Netherlands, then from the Netherlands to Zimbabwe. He said that there is no other person better placed than Mrs Chaonwa to do so and for which she is highly valued at the gallery where she has worked for more than twenty years.   Mrs Chaonwa has also fostered relationships with many galleries around the world such as the Tate Modern and galleries in Uganda. He asked everyone present to give her a big pom pom.

Mr Chikukwa handed over to Mr David Scott, Chairman of the NTZ who took the chance to illustrate the existence and importance of protecting our national heritage. He explained the background, purpose, aims and objectives of the NTZ who protect the seven properties for the future benefit of the people of Zimbabwe and for overseas visitors, with La Rochelle being the flagship property.

 Mr Scott (2nd on the right) addressing the audience

Mr Scott explained that the NTZ conducts tangible and intangible activities and conducts heritage education and other cultural projects. The La Rochelle site has direct links to the artworks being re-housed and exhibited today through the Courtauld family who bequeathed that property to NTZ and who also donated these and many other paintings to the NGZ.  He pointed out that Sir Stephen was knighted in 1958 for his services to Zimbabwe and for his cultural and philanthropic work in Zimbabwe. Sir Stephen gave away an estimated £1m in gifts and money towards helping art, music, education and race relations in Zimbabwe.

Donations included:

Mutare – Queens Hall and Courtauld Theatre, The Bulawayo Theatre; College of Music, Ranche House College, St Michaels Church Harare, Nyatsime College Library, University of Zimbabwe, the establishment of  Kukwanisa Agricultural Training Centre; Rhodes Club Mutare (the first multiracial club in the country, enabling the building of the NGZ through generous financial support and numerous artwork donations, National Museum and bequests to the NTZ and the Zimbabwe Academy of Music.

He said that it is rumoured that discussions about the original ZANU constitution were held at La Rochelle and this theory is supported by the existence of signatures of political figures such as Ndabanigi Sithole and Herbert Chitepo and other nationalists on two special windows at La Rochelle containing hundreds of signatures of people who visited La Rochelle at the time the Courtaulds resided there. Mr Scott then gave a short history of Eltham Palace which is one of the few important medieval royal palaces in England to survive with substantial remains intact. Initially a moated manor house with vast parkland, it was acquired by the future Edward II in 1305. Mr Scott thanked the NGZ for the opportunity to participate in this important exhibition and added he was happy to have been able to provide the historical background of the Exhibition.

The final address was made by Mr Roberto Franceschinis, the Acting Ambassador of Italy, who greeted everyone and started by thanking the NGZ for inviting him to be the Guest of Honour on such an extraordinary occasion, by virtue of the fact that the paintings of which today we celebrate the homecoming, were created by Italian Masters some 400 years ago. They integrate a remarkable collection of old Italian Masters which places the NGZ at the forefront of cultural destinations in the Region, and which we have the privilege to admire here today.

Mr Franceschinis then gave a brief introduction about the three artists:

Paolo Caliari, in art “Il Veronese” (1528-1588) was a late Renaissance painter who soon developed his own taste for a more vivid palette of colors.  According to Gauthier, a French critic of the nineteenth century, Veronese is the greatest colorist that ever lived, greater than Tiziano, Rubens or Rembrandt in his ability to harmonize natural tones to render light without violent contrasts, as opposed to the academic chiaroscuro technique of the time.

After the successful completion of the frescos at Villa Barbaro, a new palace in the outskirts of Venice designed by the renowned architect Palladio, a mature Veronese is commissioned with decorating the Hall of the Grand Council in the Palazzo Ducale. An immense oval named “The triumph of Venice” establishes Veronese as the true beacon of the intellectual progressiveness and civic liberalism that made Venetian society the most culturally advanced at the time, as opposed to the regressive, neo-feudal, moralistic involution that was taking hold across Europe and which would soon disembark at Venice itself to influence his latest years.

Andrea Piazza (1587-1670) was born in Castelfranco, a small town near Venice, was initiated to the art of painting in the city of Venice under the guidance of his uncle Paolo, at the time an accomplished artist himself, who had taken religious orders becoming a Capuchin friar. This was now well into the period of Catholic resurgence, a return to a more conservative religious discipline in response to the Protestant Reformation, a troubled time indeed in Europe ending only at the close of the “Thirty Years War” in 1648. Upon request from his superiors, Friar Cosmo and his nephew Andrea reached the court of the Roman Catholic Emperor Rudolph the II of Augsburg in Germany, where they spent years to glorify with frescos and paintings the eternal beatitude that the Faithful attain in paradise, as opposed to the misery and unyielding suffering of the heretics, among which they included Luther and many others. It is said that the representations were so lively and convincing, not only to achieve the desired effect quite successfully but also to echo all the way to Rome, where the two were finally drawn on the request of the Pope himself. A now mature Andrea became soon known as an excellent painter, and in later years moved first to the court of the Duke of Lorraine in France, where he was knighted in appreciation of his masterly skills, and finally back to the Republic of Venice, where he remained at the service of the Doges, and where, among many others, he realized this extraordinary piece of art.

During his closing he commended Mrs. Doreen Sibanda, Executive Director of the NGZ, together with the Curator Mr. Raphael Chikukwa and staff for their unrelenting commitment to bring such extraordinary pieces of art back where they belong, to mark not the closing of a chapter, but the onset of a new one, dedicated to treasuring these masterpieces as part of this Country’s own history to the benefit and enjoyment of present and future generations of Zimbabweans.

He then quoted Brian Bradshaw, a former Executive Director:

“It’s not to be expected that the work of the Gallery will ever be simple, perhaps also it is not to be hoped that it should be so, because art, which blends the Past with the Future into a continually expanding Present, is not of a nature to equip itself with anything less than the least simple of efforts.”

Mrs Lilian Chaonwa gave a vote of thanks the English Heritage Team at Eltham Palace who took such good care of the three paintings and returned them to the National Gallery in a pristine condition.  She also thanked Mrs Samantha Harvey Director of the British Council Zimbabwe who funded the Executive Director and Deputy Director’s trip to the UK which was the beginning of the talks to return the paintings. She also gave special thanks to the NTZ and the Italian Embassy.

  “Astronomer” by Paolo Veronese and Mrs Lilian Chaonwa, Conservation Manager

The Astronomer, wherein a draped man reclines with astrolabe in hand, the countenance on his face bears intrinsic thought and contemplation as a man of that station was classically entailed. The dark and light tones of the composition are rich and the warm colour is radiant, with the texture of the natural distinctly standing apart from the drapery, sharply creased and filling the eye pleasingly with its voluminous appearance.

Of special note are the local artists that responded to the Zimbabwe Meets Italy exhibition in a very short period of time and with such breath-taking results. Down in the Courtauld Gallery were two mixed media pieces from Greg Shaw, along with appropriate artworks from the Permanent Collection including an oil on canvas of “David And The Head Of Goliath” by Giovanni Battista Caracciolo, works by Rashid Jogee and a metal sculpture of David slaying Goliath acquired by the Friends of the Gallery. Upstairs in the South Gallery and along the passage to the PC Gallery were some very creative works by the following artists: Lilian Magodi, Tawana Reza, Clive Mukucha, Progress Nyandoro, Munyaradzi Mazaririe, Munyaradzi Mangate, Anthony Bumhira and Percy Manyonga.

 The Patriot” by Veronese Paolo: Oil on canvas 135 x 104 cm with (left to right) Mr D Scott: Chair NTZ, Mrs S Waterworth: Vice Chair NTZ and Mr Chikukwa: Chief Curator

After the speeches the audience who included members of Government, representatives of the Diplomatic Corps, The Directorate of the National Museum and Monuments of Zimbabwe, representatives of the National Archives of Zimbabwe, the National Arts Council of Zimbabwe, The National Trust of Zimbabwe and The British Council of Zimbabwe, artists, cultural practitioners, art lovers and art students began to disburse and enjoy seeing the rare art works on display after being served refreshments.

The NTZ would like to thank the NGZ for providing their technical input into this article.

International Museum Day

The worldwide community of museums will celebrate International Museum Day (MD) on 18 May 2018 coordinated by the International Council of Museums. The event highlights a specific theme that changes every year and that is at the heart of the international museum community’s preoccupations.

The theme chosen for 2018 is “Hyperconnected museums: New approaches, new publics”.

Organised on and around 18 May each year, the events and activities planned to celebrate IMD can last a day, a weekend or a whole week.

Participation in IMD is growing among museums all over the world. In 2017, more than 36,000 museums participated in the event in some 157 countries. This year we are proud to announce that the Trust will be participating in its first IMD. The Rhodes Nyanga Historical Exhibition has produced a poster inviting people to visit Nyanga’s own museum. The poster raises awareness about IMD: that they are an important means of cultural exchange, enrichment of cultures and development of mutual understanding, cooperation and peace among peoples.

We look forward to seeing you at the Museum!