Zimbabwe Shona Sculpture

Dominic Benhura

Knowlton Collection
Point Pleasant, Pennsylvania USA

19" high
14.5" wide
Playing with Mom
Nyanga Mountain Serpentine
$ 3,950
August 2015
14" high
10" wide
$ 2,000
31" high
9.5" wide
Walking the Line
$ 2,800
Nyanga Mountain Serpentine
25" high
8" wide
Playful Boys
Springstone Serpentine
$ 2,200
Dominic Benhura was born in 1968 in the small town of Murewa, Zimbabwe some 100 kilometers northeast of Harare. His father died before he was born and his mother raised him alone. Benhura excelled in primary school and it was suggested that he attend school in Harare. At the age of ten Dominic went to live with his uncle, Sekuru Gutsa, who owned a family home in the high density suburb of Tafara, in Harare, to further his studies. It was here that he was introduced to art and sculpture from his cousin, Tapfuma Gutsa, an established sculptor in his own right.

Tapfuma Gutsa had gained art and wood carving experience at Serima Mission, and quickly became Dominic's friend and mentor. Benhura began to help Tapfurma polish his pieces, later trying his hand at chisel and hammer, eventually carving small off cuts before moving on to larger stone. Tapfuma continued to support, nuture and encourage Benhura and was pleased to see the young man develop his own individual style. Selling his first work to an architect at the age of 12, sculpting became a passion for Benhura who would rush home from school to work on his pieces. After achieving excellent school results, he turned sculpting full time, much to the dismay of his family. They felt he was too smart to turn to sculpting as a full time career rather than business or architecture. In 1987 he began to take his work to Chapungu Sculpture Park and in 1990, he was invited to join the artist in residence program. Dominic worked tirelessly for long hours at Chapungu , extending himself mentally, physically and creatively. He was encouraged to work on larger and forms during his stay, including the "PawPaw Tree", "Euphorbia", and "Calabashes". In 1995 Dominic moved on to acquire his home in Athlone, Harare.

In 1995 Dominic left Chapungu and moved into his new home in Athlone, Harare. By this time he was regarded as being amongst the most important second generation artists, his work was sought after both local and overseas collectors. These years also marked the beginning of overseas travel and he attended workshops in Botswana, the United States, Belgium, Holland, Denmark and Germany. These travels broadened his outlook and brought him much acclaim. Through the years, his willingness to innovate and experiment has led to many new techniques being included in his sculpture; threading cored stone onto metal rods, using nails bound together and then glued into stone to depict thorns.

Benhura however, refused to limit himself to stone and freely used any material and technique available. He is a young Zimbabwean who has chosen art as his career and believes that the only truth is within himself and his own experiences. He shuns books on art and says of his lack of art training; "I don't miss that. It is better my work is my own". Unlike many of his contemporaries, he sketches profusely and keeps a sketch book close at hand in order to record ideas as they come to him. Once he has selected the rock he needs for a certain sketch he abandons the sketch so that it does not dictate to him, letting his moods and feelings together with the intrinsic characteristics of the stone control the final outcome. His most recent massive work: Our HIV friend" is an epic and further consolidates his position. Carved from a single 3-Kilometer block of Springstone Serpentine talks openly of the terrible scourge of the AIDS epidemic and the need for support from family and friends.

Achievements, Awards and Workshops:

1986 & 1987: Tonga Workshop, John Boyne House, Harare, Zimbabwe
1987 & 1988: Tonga Workshop, Delta Gallery, Harare, Zimbabwe
1987: First Prize, Annual Schools Exhibition, National Gallery of Zimbabwe, Harare
1988: Passed "0" Level Examinations in Art
1988: Highly Commended Certificate, Zimbabwe Heritage Exhibition of Contemporary Arts, National Gallery of Zimbabwe, Harare
1990: Selected Resident Artist, Chapungu Sculpture Park, Harare
1992: Thapong International Workshop, Mahalape, Botswana
1992: Thapong International Workshop Exhibition, National Gallery of Botswana
1993 & 1994: Workshop, "Sculpture in the Park", Loveland, Colorado, USA
1994: International Workshop, Stone Gallery, Holland
1995: Sculpture Demonstration: Shona Sol Gallery, Santa Fe, USA
1995: International Workshop, Stone Gallery, Holland
1995: International Workshop, Westfalenpark Dortmund, Germany
1995: Informal Workshop, St. Michielsgestel, Holland
1995 & 1996: Modern Africanishe Kunst Die Steinbildhauer Aus Zimbabwe, Westfalenpark Dortmund and Berlin, Germany
1995: Awarded "Invited Artist" status, Chapungu Sculpture Park, Harare, Zimbabwe
1996: 2nd Prize, Remise Academy International Workshop 96, Brande, Denmark
1997: Overall Award of Distinction, Zimbabwe Heritage Annual Exhibition of Contemporary Arts, National Gallery of Zimbabwe, Harare

Group and Solo Exhibitions

1988 & 1989: Zimbabwe Heritage Exhibition of Contemporary Arts, National Gallery of Zimbabwe, Harare
1989: Pachipamwe International Workshop, Cyrene Mission, Bulawayo, Zimbabwe
1990: Millesgarten Museum, Sales Exhibition, Sweden
1990: Yorkshire Sculpture Park, Sales Exhibition, United Kingdom
1992: Expo 1992, Seville, Spain
1992: Sculpture in the Park, Loveland, Colorado, USA
2006: Zimbabwe Stone Sculpture-Past, Current and Future Generations, Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens, Cape Town, South Africa
2007: One Man Exhibition, Creatures Of The Earth, National Gallery of Zimbabwe, Harare
2007: Stone Sculpture of Zimbabwe, Point Pleasant, PA

Permanent Public Installations

2001: Hartsfield Atlanta International Airport, Atlanta, Georgia, USA
Botanical Gardens, Singapore (Leap Frog)
Handelsman Sculpture Garden (Leap Frog and Mating Birds)
2002: Belgium
Chianti, Italy
2003: The Hague, Holland
Nelson Mandela Foundation, South Africa
Bridgehampton, New York, USA
2006: Open University, Britain (Viper Snider, Modern Misses, Bounding Bull)

Permanent Collections

Chapungu Sculpture Park, Harare, Zimbabwe


"Zimbabwe Stone Sculpture: the Second Generation" (designed and written by Joceline Mawdsley). Harare, Zimbabwe: Chapungu Sculpture Park, 1994 (48) pp. illus.

last update
2 April 2016 ~ 13:24 EST
Knowlton Collection
4961 River Rd., Point Pleasant, Pennsylvania, 18950, USA

Mailing address:
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Thomas Gamache


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