|‘Narrative vessel’: Showcase for container makers|
|Saturday, 21 April 2012 21:40|
The exhibition focussing on the traditional craft of basket-making and domestic clay containers, at the National Art Gallery, has provided a unique way of celebrating specific cultural identities from many ethnic groups across the country.
The exhibition, which ran under the theme “Narrative Vessel” began on February 12 and ended last week on Thursday.
What is significant is the extent to which this exhibition was informed by the shape of the vessels, whose history mirrors the anxiety surrounding the status of the objects in modern and contemporary art.
Curator of the exhibition Ms Lilian Chaonwa said: “Most of the pottery and basketry are transformed into stories even though original purposes were only a humble record of family events.”
For thousands of years, pottery has been an integral facet of societies. From transporting water, preservation of milk, feeding domestic animals and cooking, humans have relied on potters and their trade. Without such pots, many civilisations would have found a challenging progression ahead of them.
This relationship between the functional and the non-functional, the disposable and the precious, is one theme that emerges in the works featured in this exhibition.
This exhibition, therefore, was meant to revive a Zimbabwean art that merges traditional practice with contemporary styles and techniques to produce unique objects, standing not just as utilitarian objects but as credible art pieces, as well as valuable sources of information about a society.
Made from clay, sisal, reed and wood, the vessels relate to a story, communicate a message that goes beyond the merely decorative and provokes a thought and a response in the viewer.
Many tribes have survived in areas heavily protected by natural barriers such as forests, mountains, deserts or seas. Their pottery, for the most part, reflects a social need and a culture that has been subsistent since the beginning of time. This thread of cultural pottery, however, is far-fetched in the modern civilised world, and consists only in the few studios that potters work their trade in today.
The skill and innovation demonstrated in making these objects have seen them elevated from the realm of craft to be recognised as art.
Silas Matope co-curated with Chaonwa for the exhibition of these artefacts.