Zimbabwe: Iron Sculptor Eyes Global Market

15 October 2019

Raymond Chataira is eking out a living from making life-size metal sculptures and has set sights on markets beyond the country's borders.

Chataira, who plies his trade in Mbare, Harare, makes all types of life-sized animals ranging from elephants, antelopes, giraffes, horses, rhinos, wild dogs and cheetahs, among others. He is working on a life-sized elephant, which he expects to complete by December.

Chataira intends to export his works to Europe.

Motivated by his experience in stone sculpting, which he put aside some few years ago to concentrate on crafting wrought iron artefacts, Chataira has since identified a niche in the market.

"Metal sculptures are more portable than stone sculptures making them easier to transport.

"The hollow space in these sculptures makes them light, creating a huge difference in weight compared to solid stones," he said. Chataira said many people used to visit his workplace, appreciating the kind of work he does when the country hosts events like the Harare International Festival of the Arts (HIFA).

"Many people from outside Harare and the country's borders visit us.

"Trek Company, with a number of service stations across the country, has become one of my biggest clients.

"The company buys metal sculptures for their service stations scattered across the country," he said.

Chataira started art when he was still in primary school. He said he was inspired by Adam Madebe, who is behind the sculptures of three workers erected at Construction House in Harare's city centre.

The sculptures were erected in 1992.

The Mbare-based artist revealed that in 2004, he tried a hand in painting before he enrolled for a welding course at Chinembiri Arts Centre in his neighbourhood.

"I started off by making small birds from scrap metal up until 2007 when I crafted big animals. "My first big animal was an elephant, which was exported to South Africa," he said.

Most of Chataira's customers are foreigners. The sculptor said passion and the desire to be unique drives his work, which he feels will grow bigger once he steps into the wider international market.

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