Celebrated Zimbabwean artist, Wayne Stutchbury, has collaborated with his students to brighten up the Burns Unit in the Children’s Ward of Harare Hospital.
November saw the installation of two brightly decorated fish mobiles in the otherwise drab rooms. The pieces are instantly recognisable as Stutchbury’s work and bring his creativity to those most in need of hope. Stutchbury carved the fish and assembled the mobile, but it was his students, who range from eight to eighty years old, who painted them in bright colours.
The atmosphere in the Burns Unit is grave. The victims have endured pain beyond telling. So serious are their injuries, each patient needs an individual nurse, especially during mealtimes, when many of the children are fed via syringe through heavy bandaging that conceals excruciating, blistered flesh.
Since most of the children are flat on their backs, the mobile has been hung high. It is a huge injection of colour into what must be dreary days for the kids, most of whom cannot even fully comprehend what has happened to them.
A third, and much bigger piece, is set to be put up in the playground adjacent to the Children’s Ward in the hope of exciting and inspiring the young people who have recovered enough to leave the sad atmosphere of the interior.
Speaking to Harare News after installation was complete, Matron Charity Doto expressed pleasure at having the beautiful objects moving gently above. “They are colourful and it cheers up the kids and the mothers,” she said.
Stutchbury’s work is usually to be found in the homes of Harare’s wealthy, in our National Gallery, or in the grounds of high end restaurants such as Amanzi. He is an ardent recycler, using all sorts of discards, scrap metal, wood offcuts, broken machinery and even bones to create an array of pieces that includes furniture and sculpture.
Of the fish mobiles, Stutchbury says, “I hope they provide a bright and uplifting image for the patients.” The underlying principle of all his work is “to give objects a second life.” The children in the Burns Ward need just such optimism on their journey back to health.