My walk through the river valley started as nothing more than an excuse to spend as much time as possible enjoying the gentle warmth of an almost-autumn Sunday. I figured I’d stop by the Muttart Conservatory for a ramble around the pyramids, have a little lunch at Culina cafe, and wander home again.
Instead, I ended up in Zimbabwe.
In the courtyard of the Conservatory, a few onlookers were standing respectfully behind a rope where two African sculptors sat under a canvas canopy, releasing the shapes hidden in blocks of springstone. The artists paused frequently to answer questions and chat, not seeming to mind when a little boy slipped under the rope and picked up their rasps, chisels, and hammers for a closer inspection. From inside the Muttart’s lobby came the funky tones of Mbira Renaissance, an Edmonton-based Zimbabwean band, grooving to finger pianos, bass, drums, and the lilting rhythms of the Shona language.
I had unknowingly stumbled on the opening of a two-month celebration of Zimbabwean sculptors and their work. ZimSculpt, a world-wide curator of Zimbabwean sculpture, had brought to Edmonton the two artists-in-residence I had already met, Aron Kapembeze and Passmore Mupindiko. During the coming weeks, they’ll demonstrate their techniques, make contacts with the artistiic community, and sell their work. All proceeds from the sale of their sculptures, and that of dozens of other Zimbabweans, go directly to the artists.
Walking around the Muttart’s pyramids is always sense-stimulating, but the dozens of sculptures on display, each artistically placed to complement a plant, a waterfall, or a ray of sunshine, made my tour even more fascinating.
Some artists displayed abstract shapes, with thought-provoking titles:
I was reminded of how solitude can rejuvenate….
…and the power of women’s relationships.
I experienced the wonder of family, as two become three become the echo of love across generations.
On my way back to the lobby, I noticed a sign that told me I’d barely touched the surface of all this celebration will offer in the weeks to come. New sculptures will replace those I’ve just experienced. On September 17, an African fusion concert. On October 12, a ZimSculpt showcase. Something tells me I’ll be back soon, this time with a definite purpose in mind.