The Herald (Harare)

15 November 2012

Zimbabwe: National Gallery Hosts Basket Exhibition

Scores of artists and art lovers converged at the National Gallery of Zimbabwe last Saturday to witness the unveiling of the basket exhibition. More than 60 best crafters in the country showcased their talent and skills including two groups that came all the way from Honde Valley and Masvingo. They focused on baskets made of bamboo and sisal.

One of the inventive crafter Daniel Mabvirakare (40) leader of a Honde Valley group was an elated man.

"We started doing crafting at a low scale focusing on only four types of baskets. But now we are happy to have been taught some new designs and we are working on many pieces with varying designs," he said.

Mabvirakare said their road to stardom had been arduous with the exodus of artists to other countries in search of greener pastures a major problem.

"Many people quit crafting due to poor sells and the market again was now flooded with the same products.

"We were operating with more 60 people in 2010 and the number plummeted as a result of poor sales," he lamented.

Mrs Jennifer Matumbu of Masvingo, a sisal project leader, said help came at last when the Savannah Trust roped them in.

"The organisation came to our area and was pleased with our good works. They engaged us with the Indian Embassy before we left for India on a two-week training session where we learnt new designs," she said.

The two groups, which comprise women and men living positively with HIV and Aids, have vowed to empower other people in the remaining provinces.

The show exhibited colourful baskets meant for different purposes and a number of lamp holders. Some of the baskets signify the variety of cultures practised in Zimbabwe and in the region.

India's vast craft tradition's influence was also clear in some of the works that were exhibited last weekend.

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