Nkosilathi Sibanda Saturday Leisure Correspondent
VISUAL artists in Bulawayo are re-educating themselves as to remain relevant on the art scene. Owing to a lack of tertiary schools that concentrate on visual art, artists saw it fit to engage experienced hands to help cover the skills gap.This year’s edition of Voices in Colour realised the need to enhance their professional development.
Voices in Colour aims to empower the youth or emerging talent professionally to provide a platform for the education, development, presentation and discussion of contemporary visual art practices.
A total of 14 resident artists from the National Art Gallery in Bulawayo benefited from the programme this year. Mthabisi Phili, the programme coordinator, said they were motivated by the reality of inadequate tertiary institutions for contemporary art education.
“There is a gap in the art academic syllabus being taught and that being practised in the country and regions’ tertiary institutions. Artists lack familiarity with new media.
“There is a need for ‘emerging artists’ to be familiarised and taught how to go about engaging with such media. The affected countries suffering from the above mentioned challenges are Zimbabwe, Malawi, Zambia, Angola, Tanzania, Mozambique, Lesotho, Swaziland, DRC and Uganda among others.”
Last week, the National Gallery in Bulawayo hosted 14 artists who learnt a trick or two on how to survive in the creative industry.
Phili said they would continue to sharpen the artists’ minds.
“The past years have seen VIC holding a series of workshops. The workshops resulted in a number of observations. A majority of local artists lack adequate conceptual skills to exercise a well thought out and congruent art practice.
“The tilt of the workshop was toward exploring new media, performance video and sound,” Phili said.
He said they encouraged the artists to be keen on research and consider thinking outside the box.
“With this year’s Voices in Colour, we are geared to help the artists’ conceptual skills. It is made up of portfolio reviews, critic sessions. Artists were assisted to coin their art statements.
“The broader mission is developing artists’ capacity to utilise their locality, artistic and cultural contexts.”
Over the four days, artists enjoyed sharing their creative experience with seasoned art guru Bettina Malcomess from South Africa, Jane Morris, Brian Jones and Phili.
The 14 artists came through the workshop better equipped to compete in any space. South African Sindisiwe Buthelezi, Brian Kumira, Dumisani Ndlovu, Talent Kapadza, Barbra Anderson, Israel Israel, Nonhlanhla Mathe, Ishmael Singo, Bhekitshe Ntshali, Moffat Takadiwa, Ernest Mackina, Alfred Chitenhe, Antony Zinyange and Zandile Masuku made the grade in this year’s Voices in Colour programme.
“This is a platform for artists to share their artistic practices and engage in critical discussions with each other. Voices in Colour aims to repeat the educational programme to other talented artists next year. The programme helps professionalise the contemporary arts in Zimbabwe as well as make the local artists at par academically with their international counterparts,” Phili said.