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AfricanColours Artists Association launched
Martin Chemhere, AfricanColours -
November 02, 2004

AfricanColours Artists Association recently celebrated its arrival on the Zimbabwean arts arena in style when it unveiled a visual arts exhibition and launch ceremony in Harare on 28 September at KwaMambo Gallery in Avondale.

Elvas Mari, Deputy Director of the National Arts Council of Zimbabwe and guest of honour for the evening hailed the emergence of an organization of great span and encouraged it to go out and multiply its membership as well as its strategies for the benefit of Zimbabwean arts and culture.

Reminding the guests about the importance and purpose of exhibitions he said: ‘Exhibitions are one of the marketing strategies artists have to undertake to showcase their talents and products to both local and international arts enthusiasts. Exhibitions afford the artists the opportunity to show to the outside world what the arts are really doing in Zimbabwe. Such strategies should be able to sell the arts to the world and help make Zimbabwean arts have a mark on the international scene".

The arts administrator admitted that Zimbabweans had not yet come out of their cocoons to support local visual arts and at the same time, he encouraged the Association to initiate ideas that attracted home grown support as en extension to the burgeoning international markets.

"We really do mourn the lack of appreciation of local arts by Zimbabweans themselves. AfricanColours Artists Association should be able to come out with strategies that will result in the locals appreciating local art, participate in such exhibitions and the resultant effect being a greater consumption of our creative art by local population.

"We should seriously take our arts as an industry, an industry on the same platform like the traditionally respected formal sector. This way, the Association should be able to undertake studies to map out ways in which Zimbabwean artists can win the support of its people to appreciate our arts.

The realization of the AfrianColours Artists Association has created verve among local visual artists most of whom will expect it to bring sanity in the Zimbabwean visual arts and also provide inspiration within and outside its membership circle. Among its immediate tasks would be, as pointed out by Elvas Mari, "to go round the country and build a solid union or association for visual artists". "At the moment we do not have a viable union for the visual arts like other forms of the arts like music, literary and performing arts".

Keddy Tandi founding member of the association and advocate of new thinking in local contemporary creativity commented on the launch: "This is a great idea for Zimbabwean arts. We must work hard to further build a stronger foundation for the future. We must never allow the AfricanColours Artists Association to die, it must be the rock that we will build many dreams for Zimbabwean arts and culture".

Elvas Mari said the National Arts Council of Zimbabwe will always find reason to encourage visual artists to come together and form associations, especially those "that will champion the cause for their members". He wished to see the Association removing obstacles currently haunting the visual arts industry in marketing the arts internationally.

"The lack of an association for the arts had worked against the development of this form of arts although great strides have been taken to market our products outside the country, usually on an individual basis. It concerns us that the visual artists out there continue to be reaped by unscrupulous middlemen who buy their artifacts at a very low price and resell the same at a high profit", he commented.

"To date we continue to hear the problems visual artists continue to have outside the country, especially in the developed world. The products of our artists' creative minds have been copied by unscrupulous individuals who have gone to the extent of acquiring copyright for such designs, which originates here in Zimbabwe. We feel something urgent needs to be done to this. What it entails is that at the end of the day, our visual artifacts will not be able to find market in those countries as we will be accused of infringing on the creative rights of those people yet the opposite is true", he lamented.

His hinted that some of the best ways to break barriers in marketing art products was the creation of strategies for the products at an association level for the benefit of members and the economy.

With Zimbabwe's visual arts industry still clogged with diverse challenges, AfricancColours Artists Association should be the ideal vehicle to muster support among Zimbabwean artists and move with tangible long term results. Its needs to engage immediately a membership recruitment drive and the unification of visual artists.

For more information contact Zodwa Juma at

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