More than $11,000 was raised at last month’s Friends of the Gallery (FOG) second ever annual Art Auction, surpassing targets and expectations.
Italian Ambassador to Zimbabwe Enrico De Agostini, who hosted the event at his residence, expressed delight saying, “We built on what we did last year, and could not have hoped for a better outcome.”
The Art Auction has a cross-cutting purpose: raising money for the National Gallery’s (NGZ) permanent collection; giving exposure and support to the struggling arts community; and raising environmental awareness by gathering artworks around a topical environmental theme. Last year’s focus was on wetlands. This year it moved on to waste management as Waste no Waste, Trash is Treasure.
A new and exciting addition to the event was the painting of rubbish bins by local artists. The now beautifully decorated bins are set to be disbursed around central Harare to add colour and interest to the streets whilst also helping to combat the litter crisis. A key player in linking the artists with corporate sponsors and eventually the City of Harare was Sharon Hook of Miracle Missions.
“Today is the fulfilment of a dream for us – to bring people from all walks of life to work together for the good of the people of Zimbabwe. Seeing the unity of spirit shown here and the hope for a new Zimbabwe that we all share… it has been absolutely amazing,” said Hook.
The bins were an opportunity for corporate Zimbabwe to get involved and the call was taken up with vigour. Fifteen bins were sponsored and painted prior to the event, with other corporate sponsors coming on board too, including Econet Wireless who have committed to sponsoring a whopping 62 more bins. The remaining bins will be decorated with the entries from the schools’ arm of the event.
Akim Nyakudya is the Education Officer at NGZ. “Entries were up this year, with more than 200, since we took advantage of HIFA where visitors to the youth zone were able to paint their pictures and submit. The strongest entries overall came not from our high school students, but from grade 7s!” It was Fenella Bruce from Hellenic school that walked away with the gift first prize in this category.
The main artworks went under the hammer of fast-talker Michael Gashin from TWA Auctions. In spite of the tough economic times, the fifty or so people present put in decent bids on most items, though several did not meet the reserve. Each artist could set their baseline price and, where this was exceeded, the remainder went to support NGZ.
The winning sculpture was created by young but experienced Chitungwiza artist Terence Musekiwa, and titled “Miss Waste” – a curvaceous woman made from all sorts of scrap metal. It was sold for $1,000 – the highest earning lot for the day, affirming the judge’s recognition of it as leading the pack.
Also up for sale was work by a few students currently in training within the NGZ’s art school. Kudakwashe Dongo had his art auctioned, and had also painted a bin. “This has been a great experience for someone who is young and still at school. I got to meet Dominic Benhura, and my work is being displayed alongside that of John Kotze and other big names. I’ve had great exposure and insipiration,” he said.
FOG organiser, Marcey Mushore, was jubilant as the sun went down. “This has been a wonderful communication between all parts of society. The energy and effort of the people today has been amazing.” She extended thanks to the FOG team, to Miracle Missions, to the Ambassador and his wife, Susie De Agostini, who were both instrumental, to the various sponsors, the artists and several other people and organisations.
“Everybody who played a role today has helped society embrace art and the responsibility we have to our planet. We are the custodians of our country – its lands and culture,” said Mushore.
Photo: Italian Ambassador Enrico de Agostini and Marcey Mushore at a bin painting day at the National Gallery (Lucy Broderick)