Harare Central Rotary Club and Rotary Club of Luzern-Seetal, Switzerland recently held a bonus payment presentation ceremony for artists that took part in the ‘Art for Charity’ project.
The project coordinated by the two Rotary clubs raised funds to construct an ablution block for expectant mothers at Triashill Mission Clinic in Mutasa District of Manicaland. The construction was completed in 2016, which coincided with the 120th anniversary of the mission clinic.
The main aim of the project was to market local art abroad for the benefit of the artists and to raise money for the construction. The project paid off as it managed to not only finance the complete construction, but to make double and triple payment for some of the artists.
First, all artists were paid by Harare Rotary for their pieces before they were shipped to Switzerland. In Switzerland, the pieces were put through a competition where the best three were selected by a panel of judges. The top three artists won prize money for their work. This was followed by an auction where the highest priced artwork fetched US$4,500. Proceeds that were left over after the completion of the ablution block were then used to give 20 artists a bonus payment.
Two years ago, Dr Michael Willi a Rotarian and dentist from Switzerland was visiting the Harare Rotary office, where he became interested in one of the art pieces that were on display. In organizing the purchase for Dr Willi, Beloved Makina a Rotarian and artist from Harare came up with the idea of holding an exhibition of Zimbabwean art in Switzerland. Makina says that since he is an artist himself, it was an easy task for him to identify sculptors who could present their work in Switzerland.
He said, “ When this opportunity presented itself, I decided to find a way of promoting local art on an international scale something which is often difficult for us local artists”.
An initial 240 pieces were identified but only 30 were selected for an exhibition in Switzerland. Harare Rotary paid for the commercial value of the pieces sent to Switzerland. For logistical purposes, only pieces below one metre high were selectedv.
Dr Willi was pleased with how things came together after the huge investment of time and money.
“If you want to sell art in Switzerland, you have to buy many pieces so that people can just walk in and buy and that involves great risk,” he said.
“I had to put in my personal contacts and resources to make this work and most of the buyers are my personal friends” he added.
Former President of Harare Central Rotary Club, Themba Banda pointed out that the project also aimed to showcase the work of unheralded artists whose work was not known in art circles.
“We visited various artists from Ruwa, Mabvuku, Tafara and Chitungwiza in order to gain access to some unknown but talented artists,” said Banda
The ablution block which consisted of 1 bath tub, four showers, four flush toilets and geysers will make life easier for the expecting mothers who previously were using blair toilets.
Sr Annah Theresa Nyadombo from the
Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops Conference (ZCBC) stated that the use of the blair toilets was very compromising to the health of women who depended on the clinic for maternal health services.
“The ablution block will also be useful in protecting the unborn children because whatever physical and emotional problems the mothers faced because of lack of proper sanitation affected the children.”
“The clinic and the Catholic church are very grateful as this is a great achievement that will ensure that we provide great health services to the community” added Sr Annah Theresa.