Zimbabwe Shona Sculpture

Tutani Mugavazi

Knowlton Collection
Point Pleasant, Pennsylvania USA

28" high
10" deep
Springstone Serpentine
$ 975
Tutani Mugavasi has come from a rural background which has allowed
him direct contact with stone as it comes straight from the mine, and
his sculptures have a new raw presence. He has worked at Tengenenge
and also established himself in Muturonshanga where he has his own
springstone mine. He comes from a family of sculptors, but he has
gone out on his own to explore in his work the beauty and character of women,
the way women walk and move through their everyday lives. Much of the
stone sculpture made in Zimbabwe dealing with woman is made by woman
sculptors, who clearly define the position of women as they see them today
in their work, sometimes defensively and always on the side of the women.

Tutani Mugavasi is a male appreciative of women, more concerned with their
beauty than her newly established position in society, and the role of women
as wives and mothers. It he seems he would be capable of making a sculpture
of a woman who is not beautiful. If her face is not beautiful her body may
be beautiful. If her body is not so, the way she moves her body may be
beautiful, as might the expression on her face which makes her face beautiful.

There is a "look" about his sculptures, something that makes him appear
a connoisseur of women's beauty, gives him an eye as to the way women
walk, makes him value their conversations as serious. There is nothing in
his sculpture which allows the natural form of the stone to distort the features
of a woman's face, to bring a sad glint to the woman's eyes, to make her
nose out of place to her ears, her eyes out of place to her nose. The features
of his woman are symmetrical and balance, they are as perfect as
a woman can be.

In addition to women Tutani is called by the African bush to make sculpture,
the movements of animals, the way birds fly, the way baboons play, all this
has an influence in the sculptures he makes. The stone as it first appears has
a strong influence on his work. The natural properties of the stone are used
to highlight the beauty of a woman, the worked surface, the way
she dresses and generally adorns her body.

His sculpture is a reminder of the importance of the natural shape of
the stone, its original features to sculptors in Zimbabwe. There is much
to be said for sculpture which respects the natural quality of the material
from which it is made. Whoever made the Sphinx was mindful of the dusty
appearance of sandstone, the way it generates dust which swirls in the dessert
wind. Tutani Mugavasi looks towards the form of the stone, it's natural shape
and what he sees in the stone bears a strong relationship to these things.

Nature means all he sees around him, not just trees, plants, flowers and grass,
but the scudding clouds in the sky and the way the sun and moon grow large
and small in accordance with the time of day or night. He says that his stones
shape stories and allow him to express himself far better than he can or
could with words. In his sculptures clouds merge with dreams, dreams
with what he sees around him. Imagination is vital to his work, and
fantasy plays its part.

Muturoshanga has a sense of has been and what once was. Once a
flourishing mining town, it now seems a series of gaunt mountains,
starving for rain and care, black shapes against a leaden gray sky.
There are roads which seem to come from nowhere, empty of cars
and even people walking. Tutani has a mine at Mutoroshanga,
a place at least to find stones and to also entrust them to
the care of young people, boys and girls who proper is education
is a practical impossibility. At the home of Mrs. Jill Latham,
he works on his stones alongside other young men.
Mrs. Latham has a garden turned sculpture park.
Tutani Magavasi's sculpture can be seen, stones merging
with small trees and offset by small gullies.

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

Mailing address:
763 Almshouse Rd, Doylestown, PA 18901

Thomas Gamache


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