If you ask anyone at First Floor Gallery – “What’s happening?” the answer is invariably “ah it’s busy!” This is not surprising. Over the past year, since establishing its permanent home at Mercury House in George Silundika Avenue, the downtown arts space has been picking up speed to become a hub of cultural and creative activity. In the last couple of months alone, the gallery has hosted screenings and panel discussions, workshops, several exhibitions, took part in the Chimanimani Festival, as well as hosting networking events and launching a children’s art programme.
“We thrive on the spirit of cooperation,” comments Marcus Gora, First Floor Gallery Harare’s PR and Marketing Director, “From the outset, we decided that the gallery has to be an open space for anyone to develop ideas and projects and have an opportunity to present new things to Harare audiences.”
September is no less busy. Opening on 29 August and running throughout September is In Black & White, an innovative exhibition presenting new bodies of work from Anne Mutema and Gresham Nyaude. While both artists have been active participants in the Harare visual art scene for the last couple of years, this is the first time that they are presenting a substantial body of work. The title speaks of their view of life and a desire to express some truths – comfortable and uncomfortable, beyond the colourful festivity often expected from the young. For Nyaude, a painter, born and bred in Mbare, the quest is to get under the skin of life in his neighbourhood. Conversely, Mutema, an installation artist, takes the audience as the primary subject of her work. Her installation in a dark room is composed of suspended figures in diffused sinister red light.
This month, the gallery is also presenting an artist talk and a video art workshop by Toni Crabb, a Zimbabwean artist currently based in Barcelona, Spain. She will be sharing some of her expertise with emerging artists in Harare.
“Working with expatriate Zimbabweans and developing links with the artistic community as a diaspora has been a really rewarding part of the Gallery’s work over the past year,” explains Valerie Kabov, International Projects and Education Director. “Everyone knows there is a wealth of academic professional talent in the diaspora, but there is also a richness in creative and artistic talent. We have been lucky to have many people reaching out wanting to rebuild a connection with home and to make a contribution.”
Also, in September, the Gallery will continue its collaboration with the Council for Zimbabwe, hosting the organisation’s monthly Third Thursday networking event, which aims to bring together Harare’s professionals and entrepreneurs across all industries.
The gallery will also be busy internationally this month, setting off to take part in Berliner Liste Art Fair in Berlin and later in October to be the first and only Zimbabwean gallery selected to take part in the inaugural edition of 1:54 Contemporary African Art Fair in London.
Find First Floor Gallery at 2nd Floor, Mercury House, 24 George Silundika Avenue. Opening hours: 10am–6pm, Monday to Saturday, or by appointment. Email: [email protected], join the First Floor Gallery Harare Facebook Group or phone: 251502 (10am–6pm daily, except Sundays) or 0775 709 031.