The Sunday Mail
LAST year’s “Miniskirt March” did not only make headlines and bring business to a halt in the capital – it also inspired artistes.
One such creative genius is Miriro Mwandiambira, who captured through art, the march by women’s rights lobby groups, who were protesting against touts for harassment at various bus ranks.
Although this is just one of the many protests and demos that are organised by various groups that stand for women’s rights, Mwandiambira showed that there are other avenues which can be used to voice concerns.
The emerging contemporary artiste, who uses her craft to address issues that affect women in society, creatively captured, in a piece of art, the essence of the protest.
Her painting which was part of The National Gallery’s ‘Greenshoots Exhibition’, portrays the struggles that women go through and the negative reactions they face from society when they choose to wear miniskirts.
Mwandiambira’s work takes a critical view of social and cultural issues based on women, borrowing ideas from what she sees, feels and experiences on a daily basis.
With printmaking and painting being her areas of interest, she uses a unique technique that has already caught the eye of many art critics. In most of her paintings she cleverly manipulates colour and fuses various artistic elements to create hypnotic paintings.
A product of the National Gallery School of Visual Arts and Design, she was among the four artistes that were recently presented as the latest additions to the First Floor Gallery residents. The Sunday Mail Leisure had the opportunity to interview Mwandiambira and she shared her artistic journey.
“I started doing art in 2007 when I was in Form 1 at Girls’ High School and I was the worst art student in my class. I used to hate art because I just took it as a subject, without any passion for it and my art teacher would tear up my sketchbook every time I attended class and apparently that was the motivating factor that drove me into being a better artiste,” said Mwandiambira.
After coming across her father’s sketchbook, she was impressed with his work and decided to pursue art seriously after school, but enrolling in art school would prove to be a daunting task since she did not have some of the requirements.
“I wanted to enrol at the National Gallery, but I didn’t have a portfolio, which is one of the requirements, so I had to work on that first.”
She went on to enrol at the Gallery in 2013 after completion of her portfolio where she graduated with a certificate of achievement as well as a certificate of competence. She also received an award for being the third best student at the school.
The First Floor Art Gallery came knocking on her door before she graduated when one of their resident artistes saw her potential during a visit to the art school.
“We had sessions at the gallery whereby an artiste would come and critique our work.
“An artiste from The First Floor Gallery, Moffat Takadiwa, came to one such session and from about 40 students that were there he saw my work alongside three other students as the promising works for the industry and he approached us with the idea of doing a joint exhibition at their gallery.”
Mwandiambira alongside Troy Makaza, Takunda Billiat and Julio Rizhi, featured in the “Kuyaruka – Age of Accountability”, which became their first serious exhibition at First Floor Gallery in which they presented new bodies of work tackling some of the issues in contemporary Harare.
“My work is about a woman who is trying to find her way in society and I usually use shoes as the subject matter in my paintings because I feel that a person’s character is best seen by the type of shoes they wear.”
The talented artiste will have the opportunity to showcase her capabilities at this year’s Harare International Festival of the Arts (Hifa) as part of First Floor Gallery’s programme which they will be running during the festival.
She is also going to feature in “So You Think You Know Me”, Linda Gabriel’s spoken word show, which is going to be held on the 16th and 17th of this month at the First Floor Gallery.
Other exhibitions she has participated in include “Green Shoots” and “Zimbabwe Annual Exhibition” at the National Gallery to mention just a few.