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Zimbabwe art unveiled in West Nottingham

01/06/2015 02:50PM ● Published by Richard Gaw

Despite the Saturday morning rain that resulted in a lack of turnout for the opening of more than two dozen crates of fine stone sculptures shipped recently from Zimbabwe, Colin Thompson was not dismayed. The nearly 300 pieces in the exhibit, he said, will soon be on their way to the rest of the world, beginning with Atlanta, Ga.

Speaking at the eighth annual Shona Stone Sculpture opening in Nottingham, Thompson, the owner of the Zimbabwe Gallery in Oxford, said he is often surprised at what he sees moments after a crate of artwork is opened. He admired one particular piece made of springstone, created by one of Zimbabwe's finest sculptors, the late Henry Munyaradzi. The sculpture, he said, has already been purchased by Dr. Louis Sullivan of the Morehouse School of Medicine in Atlanta. A portion of the collection is expected to arrive in Atlanta this week.

In this collection, Thompson has been able to acquire ten of Munyaradzi's pieces, three of which have already been sold. Munyaradzi is just one of nearly 50 Zimbabwe sculptors Thompson has worked with since starting his business.

"Being from Zimbabwe was a plus for me, because when I began the business, I got to meet and know different sculptors and we slowly added on a few more sculptors to our program," he said.

The rise in popularity of Zimbabwe sculpture, Thompson said, is due in part to the complexity of working with the material and the growing accessibility to it around the globe.

"Stone is a difficult form to work with," he said. "It's an art form that dates back centuries, and gained momentum in the '50s and '60s in Europe, and in the early '70s and '80s, it began to find its way to the United States. As a result, people have been buying more art from Zimbabwe when they couldn't find anything like it before. When the art came, people responded favorably."

Thompson sells to major corporations and individual collectors, including such dignitaries as former Atlanta Mayor Andrew Young, baseball Hall-of-Famer Henry Aaron, and singer Patti LaBelle. Because of his expanding business contacts and acquisitions, he plans to open a new gallery in Atlanta, as well as maintain his presence in Chester County.

"It's an array of professional folks who have fallen in love with this," he said. "I have a strong following between the New York and Washington, D.C. corridor. I cannot forget the clients in this area who built my company, so we will still continue to be available to them."

For more information about purchasing Zimbabwe sculpture from the Zimbabwe Gallery, visit www.shonasculpture.com, or contact Thompson directly at 484-459-6625.

To contact Staff Writer Richard L. Gaw, e-mail rgaw@chestercounty.com.



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