Travelling from the National Sports Stadium towards the city is Marimba Shopping Centre. Here you’ll see two giraffes which at first sight could be mistaken for stone sculptures. Entering ABC Auctions premises you’ll find two more outstanding sculptures – a charging bull on the left and two horses on the right, all life sized. There are many examples of metal sculptures, in various shapes and sizes, in and around the city.
Saddam Suraji, son of James Suraji, a wrought iron artist based at Newlands Shopping Centre, claims that his father is the pioneer of this art of making life sized metal sculptures. He progressed from creating stone sculptures some years ago. He said that move from stone sculpture to metal was inspired by the desire to be unique and to rid the city of scrap metal waste. Apart from making use of metal waste, it also breathes new life into gardens, verges, islands and lawns. Made with great artistic precision they offer an opportunity for those who have never seen these animals, especially at close range, to catch a glimpse of what these creatures look like in life. Suraji said the advantage of metal sculpture over stone is that it is more portable. “It is easier to transport life sized metal sculptures because of the hollow centre, making them much lighter than stone sculptures which are solid,” he said.
Their workshop is in Ardbennie, but he said buyers from various walks of life visit their display at the Newlands craft market. During events like the Harare International Festival of the Arts (HIFA) and the upcoming Agricultural Show in August, many people from outside Harare and outside the country’s borders visit them. However, he bemoaned lack of workshop space and called for wrought iron artists to come together and lobby for the establishment of a centre like Chapungu Arts Gallery in Msasa. “Such establishments would act as a workshop and training ground where we can meet, share ideas and produce tomorrow’s outstanding achievers in this field. This would also be good for our customers as it would bring different artists together in one place, so that buyers would have a very wide range of works to choose from without driving from one place to the other,” he said.
He said they source raw materials from junk yards such as Magaba or Siyaso in Mbare and from scrap metal collectors. He added that the future is looking bright as more and more artists are becoming involved and the prospect of providing employment for the ever growing number of unemployed people is good.
“Most of the wrought iron art works located at various service stations around the city and dotted along major highways came from here,” he said. Suraji said they don’t have any problems with the local authorities because the places where they display their wares from are approved by the City Council.
Nimrod Zata of Warren Park D, a metal sculpture enthusiast, spoke to Harare News at Marimba Shopping Centre in Belvedere saying, “These art works are giving our city a new face by bringing wild, rural and urban life together.” He added that even foreign and local tourists who miss out on the chance to visit our national parks can still experience these memorable creatures without leaving the city.