Art and About The Victoria Falls Hotel Part 1

20 July 2021

Cultural Art and Expression in Stone

‘Where did it come from? The imagination. This is what happens with sculpture; the imagination meets the stone, the tools fly, and there is a sculpture.’ - Celia Winter Irving (New Visions in Stone, 2003)

Art is an infused expression of culture, society, people, passion and talent. Zimbabwe embraces gifted hands when it comes to artistic expression through stone sculpting. The stones narrate family life, the magnificence of nature, tradition, and supernatural depictions with unique finished products exuding those past and present experiences giving us all future archives for generations to come.

Art Inspiration

Most stone sculptors in Zimbabwe are from the Shona Culture which is reflected in the art that symbolizes the spirit world, magic, family, tribulations and events. As in any culture the knowledge is passed on from generation to generation in various form, including stone sculpting. Stone art which depicts animals with human characteristics, present narratives aimed at being guidelines to various life situations. With Zimbabwean stone sculptures becoming known world over, this knowledge is being passed on at the international stage.

Art at the Hotel

An idle walk in the expansive Hotel gardens leads you to the Stone Dynamics Gallery nestled at the Jungle Junction Restaurant grounds. Stuart Danks opened the space in 1986 which led to paved paths for young and talented artists to exhibit their works to the guests of The Victoria Falls Hotel. The evolution of artistic style is attributed to global connectedness where artists are now more exposed to broader spheres of influence multi-culturally. An afternoon or morning well spent as you get insights on the various works and can purchase and have these shipped anywhere in the world.   

Types of Stone

The artistic pieces that colourfully adorn artistic space include butter jade which is a creamy white stone; cobalt stone which is in the form of purple serpentine stone with yellow, brown and green; Leopard Stone which is greenish with black and yellow spots; Lepidolite which is a rare stone with multiple crystals; opal stone represented by light green and a smooth texture, and most commonly durable serpentine stone.

Stone Creation Process

‘The artists will tell you that finding, selecting and transporting the stone are the most difficult and expensive parts of creating a sculpture. – Stuart Danks

The work, dedication and commitment to such pieces of art are seen through the processes of creation. Various techniques are used to perform such art including hand picking of stones or machine-based sorting. Artists prefer visiting the mine sites themselves to be able to choose stone based on interest, inspiration and experience. Such a process usually includes searching under a hot sun, fuelled by passion. Sculptors then use their talents to chip off excess stone and shape these according to their inspiration and envision designs. Having shaped the stone, artists tactfully polish the product using sand paper or sand cloth making these ready for decorating your space.

‘I have to think about how to make the stone talk as each and every stone has its own shape. It takes much time, not in the form of labour, but in the creation.’ - Zachariah Njobo

Renowned local  Zimbabwean Stone Artists

Talented creators of stone art in Zimbabwe with works on display at the hotel include the following;

  • Dominic Benhura
  • Bernard Matemera
  • Colleen Madamombe
  • Cosmos Kamhiriri
  • Ernest Chiwaridzo
  • Freddy Mariga
  • Gladman Zinyoka
  • Henry Munyaradzi
  • John Gutsa
  • Lazarus Takawira
  • Richard Mteki
  • Shadu Chatsama
  • Zachariah Njobo

Celebrating Cultural Expression

The Victoria Falls Hotel celebrates such cultural expression by embracing the stone gallery which comes to life in the form of the traditional dancers during the dinner showcase. The traditional dancers display the narratives depicted by the stones which are the cultural tales and beliefs of the supernatural realm.


Reference:  Danks, Stuart (2016).Zimbabwe Stone Sculpture. Celebrating 30 years of stone Dynamics Gallery

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