7 January 2019

Zimbabwe: Young Sculptor Dreams Big

Sculpture is an art that has traditionally been passed down family trees. Like mbira music, sculpture carries many artefacts of Zimbabwean culture.

Life-size stone sculptures stand in galleries in many parts of the world showcase creativity among Zimbabwean stone carvers.

From first generation sculptors to the current crop of carvers, the art has proved to be a unique Zimbabwean style that tells many stories about our culture.

The art has been a source of spiritual connections between generations. Many families have brought out sculptors of various ages. They have learnt from their fathers and delivered the creativity with passion.

One young man who has learnt the art from his father is Deon Chikodzi. He went to top class schools and mingled with various races. He became a renowned athlete and award-winning rugby player, but he did not forget what he grew up observing.

From a tender age, Deon observed his father carving great images and working with other talented sculptors in his backyard.

Biggie Chikodzi might not be a well-known sculptor to many art followers at home, but his sculptures have made their way to prestigious galleries in the United Kingdom, Canada, the United States and Australia among others.

He has raised the Zimbabwean flag to many parts of the world through sculpture. Despite being exposed to many artistic and professional fields as he grew up, Biggie's son was attracted by his father's creativity.

Now aged 21, Deon is following in his father's footsteps. He has set aside his initial dream to pursue athletics. The lure of creativity with stone-carving has conquered every other aspiration around him.

He is determined to make a mark in the history of local sculpture and he is confident of passing on the art to the next generation.

"When I was young I enjoyed seeing my father doing his work with his chisel and hammer. I never thought I would consider sculpture as a profession but I admired his skills. I would assist with polishing pieces when my father wanted to sell his sculptors. It was just a way of assisting him as a son. I was not aware that the art was slowly invading my heart," said Deon.

"With the aid of one of my father's sculpting friends called Mr White, I carved my first piece when I was 14 years old and I got good comments about the piece. I started doing more pieces, but it was all out of fun. I did not take it seriously.

"When my father looked at my pieces, he was happy and encourages me to be serious about the art. I never took the encouragement seriously because I wanted to be an athlete. I just did a few pieces when I was free."

When he sustained a serious injury during one of his athletics ventures, Deon realised that his dream in sports had serious challenges.

AS he slowed down in athletics, Deon found himself more attached to his father's home gallery. He began working on more sculptures and got admiration of buyers that came to assess his father's pieces.

"Many buyers that saw my early pieces inspired me to work harder. They gave me the energy to keep working with stones. I am now happy that I have sold many pieces and my father keeps encouraging me to work harder. I believe sculpture is now my life. My father has taken my pieces to some international exhibitions and I am confident I can make it on my own. This is a great industry and I am now in love with sculpture."

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