Shona Stone Carvings and African Art Sculptures

Shona Stone Carvings and African Art Sculptures

The Artists

We are constantly on the lookout for new artists who create the stone carvings such as the ones shown in this Shona stone carving catalog. As we locate new artists we attempt to obtain information on their background, work, place of residence and similar personal items.  We have begun this biographical section to inform our customers as we obtain details on Shona artists and will continue to expand it on a regular basis.  In some instances there will be biographical material but no work of an individual currently in stock. Please let us know if you are interested in the work of a particular artist and we will make every effort to obtain that person's work.

Shona Artists and Crafts People

DANIEL CHIDOTI:  Chidoti was born in 1980 in Mbare, an improvised area of Harare, the capital of Zimbabwe.  He continues to live there with his wife Lucy, their daughter, and his elderly mother and father. Shona culture forbids a family member from being turned away in a time of need, so his sister and her young child have also been accepted into the modest household.

GADZIRIRAYI CHRISS CHIRONGA:  Chironga was born on November 12th 1971 in Gweru, Zimbabwe. His name Gadzirirayi in Shona means "To Prepare. 

He was educated in Zimbabwe, attending many different schools as his father, a policeman, was transferred many times. Chironga attained his "O" level certificate in seven subjects and left school in 1989. In 1990 he began work as an apprentice fitter and turner with Shabani Mine.  He qualified as a fitter and turner in 1994 and worked for the mine until 1996, when he moved to the Guruvi district, his homeland. Chironga met his wife Nzwisisai while traveling on a bus to Masvingo.  They now have one son. Nzwisisai is a school teacher at Guruvi Primary School and has encouraged Chriss to become a world famous artist.

In 1997, Lucky Mupinga, a well known artist in Zimbabwe and Chironga's uncle, told him he had talent and should try his hand at stone sculpture.  Lucky carves in the harder stones, using mainly Spring Stone and Chironga fortunately chose this as a medium. Spring Stone is normally black, with green or brown markings.  Chironga's first sculpture was sold within a month to Roy Guthrie of the Chapungu Gallery in Harare, Zimbabwe.  The gallery commissioned Chironga to do 10 more works.   He worked under contract to Chapungu until his contract came up for renewal, at which time he decided he would sell his own work, which he has been doing since 1999.

Chironga has sold his work in Holland, England, France and the United States.  He is a bird lover, so many of his pieces are inspired by his perception of the Zimbabwe birds.  Chironga likes to work on the human form as well and although his work is abstract in form, it is easy to see how he titled his pieces.

RUSSEL DLAMINI:  Dlamini was born on May 2, 1958 in Barberton, South Africa.  He is married and lives with his wife and three children in a small community near Nelspruit, South Africa.

He attended the Khumbula Secondary School in South Africa and started drawing when he was 14 years old. In 1976 Dlamini began specializing in the beautiful etchings that he now does on Verdite and occasionally other stone.

AARON KAPEMBEZA:  Kapembeza was born in Harare, Zimbabwe on March 25, 1982.  He is rapidly becoming an established figure amongst the Third Generation of Zimbabwean stone sculptors.   He is considered by many to be a part of the finest new talent from his country.

Aaron completed his Primary education at Mwanandishe Primary School and Secondary education at Tafara High School.   He completed his Ordinary Level Education in 1999.   Aaron started sculpting under the tutelage of Colleen Madamombe, a world renowned artist, and worked with her until 2003 when he began to work on his own.

Kapembeza works predominantly in hard black Springstone and Opal stone, often utilizing the outer blanket of the stone, creating many different textures to contrast with the polished surfaces.

ELLIOT KATOMBERA:  Katombera was born in Mashonaland, Zimbabwe on August 28, 1974.  He attended school at Vimbai, where he did his primary school and completed his GCE, "O" level.

He started working with stone carvings at the age of 16.  He was mentored by splendid first generation sculptors such as Nicholas Tandi.  Katombera now specializes in creating male and female busts.  He has worked in Serpentine, Springstone, Africa Stone, Butter Jade, Verdite, and Opal stone. His work is exhibited and sold worldwide.

HORNEST MACHOKOTO:  Machokoto was born in Masvingo, Zimbabwe on February 22, 1977.  Hornest and his father started carving in 1998 to earn their living.  They were taught by Gladman Zinyeka, a well known Shona artist who taught until his death in April 2000.  

Zinyeka was a specialist in creative art, teaching his scholars to use their imagination and make use of the Shona culture and family events such as births; deaths; weddings; planting and reaping of crops; and other daily occurences.

Machokoto presently sells his carvings to galleries and art centers throughout southern Africa and more recently in North America.  Machokoto is married, with one child. He strives to become as fine an artist as his teacher, Zinyeka.

TAWANDA MAKORE:  Makore was born on August 8, 1979 in the Midlands province of Zimbabwe.  In Africa, families are generally identified with an animal or a bird as their totem.  Makore's totem is the shoko(monkey).  Akence Makore, his late uncle inspired him to become a sculptor and he started at an early age in Guruve, copying his elders.

In 1990 Makore's family migrated to Bulawayo in the Matebeleland province, where he continued carving, mainly during school holidays.  At that time he sold his work mainly to tourists at airport markets.

Living in the Ndebele society, he adopted their language and culture.  He introduced abstract forms to his friends and this gradually moved him into becoming an abstract expressionist.  He continued his studies under Zotoh Sango, a well known abstract expressionist.  By early 1997 Makore had sold a number of sculptures to private collectors and to the National Gallery in Bulawayo.  He is a member of the Friends of the National Gallery, better known as "vision sculptors."

Makore returned to his home in Guruve to care for his late uncle's homestead and two minor children until they reach adulthood.  He sources his raw stone from the hills surrounding this homestead.  These hills are rich in the well known Serpentine stone.  Makore also enjoys working with hard stones such as Springstone, Opal, and Cobalt, which are also found around Guruve.

Makore favors the carving of eagles, which are related to the ruling tribe in Shona belief.  He puts eagles into rock as he believes that they are going to become an endangered species.  Makore is something of a dreamer and sometimes draws on the clouds, the shona word for which is "makore." When not carving, he can often be found lying under a tree, dreaming or gazing at the distant hills.

EDMORE MAKUVIRE:  Makuvire is a Mashona by tribe and comes from the Mashava area of Zimbabwe. He was born on April 5, 1970 in the Mvuma area and is the eldest son.  As a youngster he was obliged to look after the family farm and herd of cattle, which gave him a wonderful opportunity to understand the environment in which he lived.  It was also an influence on his future career as a carver.

He began his education at Mvuma primary school and completed his secondary education at Razi High School in Chivi, where he majored in music and art. Makuvire wanted to be a musician, playing the guitar and mbira. The music scene did not pay enough to support him however, and he went to see his older friend Gills Tsungo in Mashava, a fine art carver, specializing in animal and bird carvings.

After qualifying as an artist, Makuvire moved to Mvuma, where he joined a cooperative group under the leadership of Willard Kani.  Makuvire has been successful in selling animal and bird carvings to both America and Australia. He has expanded his work to other aspects of African life.  He is married, has two children, and still enjoys playing the mbira in his spare time.

PASSMORE MASHAYA:  Mashaya was born in 1971 in Nyanga.   He was educated at Mazarura Primary School and at St. Monica Secondary School.   As a child, he spent most of his free time working with clay, sculpting human, bird and animal figures.

He was inspired by stories of his Great Uncle, Moses Mashaya, and trained by many talented sculptors, including Agnes Nyanhongo and Joseph Munemo. He has been sculpting professionally since 1990 and works with a strong desire for his art to create and sustain a heritage for future generations.   He has exhibited six times in Zimbabwe and his art has been exposed abroad by art collectors.

LETWIN MUGAVASI:   One of the leading female sculptors in Zimbabwe, Mugavasi works in Guruve, a small town in the northern part of the country. She typically depicts strong, proud African women and her work is gaining an increasing international audience.   Her sculpture has recently begun to appear in the United States, Europe and Australia.   She works almost entirely in Springstone, creating both rough and polished sculptures.

Mugavasi is married to fellow sculptor Obert Nyamapapira, whose work is also widely hailed in Zimbabwe and beyond.   Nyamapapira began exhibiting domestically in 1988, and has since gone on to shows in London, Tokyo, New York, Chicago, Atlanta, San Francisco and San Diego.

CASSIAN MUNHUNDARIMA:  Cassian was born on October 29, 1978 in Harare, Zimbabwe.   Following completion of his Ordinary education he began computer education at a local college.   After meeting Dominic Benhura, a prominent, world renowned sculptor, Cassian abandoned his position at the college and began his career in the world of art.   Benhura taught Munhundarima about both the mental and physical aspects of art until he began sculpting on his own.

Cassian has achieved a great deal and is rated among the most promising of up and coming young artists. He started working with Benhura in 1998 and struck out on his own in January 2006.   Cassian is well on the way to achieving his ambition of working at an internationally competitive standard.

HENRY MUNYARADZI:  Known simply as "Henry", Munyaradzi is one of the most famous sculptors in Zimbabwe.  Born in 1931 in the Guruve District of Zimbabwe, he started his working life as a herd boy, an apprentice carpenter, a farm worker, and other various occupations.  Munyaradzi was brought up by an uncle in a rural environment, where he had no formal schooling.  As he grew to manhood he worked for the village blacksmith and on tobacco farms as a carpenter and tobacco grader.

Out of work in 1967, he accidentally discovered the world of stone through Tengenenge, a sculptors' community established by ex-tobacco farmer Tom Blomefield.  Interested by the challenge of stone, but having no technical base, Henry nevertheless became one of the stars of this community of sculptors.

Henry's style, the purity of his lines and the rigor of his work, led to exhibitions all over the world.  After the first of these at the National Gallery of Zimbabwe in 1968, he exhibited extensively, both in Zimbabwe and internationally.  The Museum of Modern Art in Paris, the Rodin Museum, as well as museums and galleries in London, New York, Sydney, and Frankfurt, have hosted Henry's Work. He participated in a total of 70 expositions, until the Biennial in Venice in 1992 and the exposition "Les Magiciens de la Terre" at Beaubourg center in Paris.

He lived and worked on his own farm in Zimbabwe until his death in 1998.

ZACHARIAH NJOBO:  Njobo was born in September, 1962, in Birchenough Bridge, Zimbabwe.  He is a third generation sculptor, of the Ndau tribe, a group located in the area between the Shona in the north and the Ndebele in the south.

Njobo attended school but left before completing his matric because of financial constraints.  His uncle, a successful wood sculptor, encouraged Njobo's interest in sculpting.  He pursued it as a hobby until he moved to Harare in search of employment and discovered the Canon Paterson Art Centre, where young sculptors work and develop together.

Njobo is now a successful full-time sculptor.  His unique, distinctive style has brought him to the attention of buyers and collectors throughout the world.  His clean, efficient works have been displayed by a number of galleries worldwide.

CHARLES RANZVENGA:  Ranzvenga is a member of the Shona tribe and his totem is the Shumba (lion). He grew up in a rural area where his grandfather was a blacksmith, making axes, hoes, and spears which were sold to the local community.

Ranzvenga's father was a peasant farmer who had great financial difficulty raising his five children but wished him to finish high school.  His grandfather on the other hand wanted Ranzvenga to become a blacksmith.  To solve the family dispute, Ranzvenga was sent to Harare to live with his brother Lazarus, a carver. He met his present wife while in high school and she became pregnant while he was still at school. Her bride price was $4,000 and the penalty for premarital pregnancy an additional seven head of cattle. In order to support his new wife, Ranzvenga began working after school and on weekends for Chatambudza Mushinga, a local carver. He worked for Mushinga for three years.

After completing high school Ranzvenga apprenticed to Boniface Mashave, with whom he worked for the next five years, following which he successfully went on his own.  Like most artists he strives for fame and riches and realizes that this can best be achieved through sale of his carvings to the overseas market.

Ranzvenga lives in Waterfalls with his wife and three children in a house shared with his brother Lazarus. His favorite stones are Opal, Wonderstone, and Springstone.  He enjoys carving birds but also carves "creations" and contemporary Shona art.  He and his brother purchase their raw stone direct from the quarries in Kwe Kwe, Concession, and Chiweshe.

EDWARD RUMANO:  Rumano was born on August 20, 1972 in Murewa, Zimbabwe. He was brought up at Mukarakate village.  He returned to Murewa for his "O" level work at the Nhowe Mission School.  Rumano is one of a family of artists, both his father and brother working with stone.  He began carving in 1994, presently working at home and occasionally at the Chinembiri Art Center. His work can be found in Zimbabwean galleries.  His typical media include verdite, springstone, rapoko, and serpentine.

CALEB SAMHERE:  Samhere is a member of the Manica tribe and was born in the Nyanga district of Zimbabwe in 1957.  His father had two wives, so Samhere has 16 brothers and sisters.  He completed his basic education at St. Columbus Mission School in the Honde Valley.  To supplement the family income Samhere began designing walking sticks and wooden plaques.  With no market for these fine products in his rural home area, he went to Chitungwiza to sell his work and was eventually apprenticed to Israel Chikumbirike, a well known sculptor.

Samhere studied fine art under Chikumbirike and specialized in carving busts of people.  He left Chikumbirike to work for a company that produced carved ivory, starting his own studio when the ban on ivory was introduced.   His current specialty is creating verdite stone heads and half figures.  He currently resides in Chitungwiza with his father and his father's family; along with his own wife and seven children.  Through his efforts as a sculptor, he provides support for his family and his parents

BRIGHTON SANGO:  Brighton Sango was born in 1958 in Guruve, Northern Zimbabwe and remained in the beautiful rural surroundings of his home.  He was considered to be an important member of the Second Generation, and his work was a source of interesting debate as to the future of Zimbabwean sculpture. Sango represented a new direction: abstraction.

Sango's sculptural career began at Tengenenge.  He stayed only a few months before removing himself from the distracting and possibly confusing influence created by other sculptors.  "After my experience at Tengenenge I felt I had to change.  My work was being too influenced by others.  I now work with the idea that every day is new and that your work must reflect this."  With no artistic education, he made the decision to prevent outside influence on his work and began to give voice to his very different ideas -- with conviction and pride.  In August 1995 Brighton Sango tragically took his own life.

TARZAN AND TEST SITOLE:  The Sitole brothers are the cousins of Charles Nambawere.  Both brothers are married and each have one child.  The three families live in new Tafara, Zimbabwe, in the same large house and share a small common studio.  Tarzan tried prize fighting for a living, retiring from the ring after being knocked out and losing his front teeth.  Tarzan prefers carving heads, in either Granite or Wonderstone.  His brother Test prefers Serpentine and Opal stone and tends to carve figures.

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