This is a quote from "Hillel the Elder" from the first century. (I thought I was so original!)

Monday, May 4, 2015

Art in Zambia?

I have always been interested in fine art.  I even tried my hand at it for a while before we left for Zambia.  I was hoping to even practice some more in my spare time.  I was always on the lookout for what would be authentic Zambia art.

There are quite a lot of crafts here but most of Zambia's talent seems to come from around Livingstone.  The families who sell these items are mostly related to folks in Livingstone.  I must admit I have looked for two years and Lusaka doesn't have much to offer in the way of fine art.  
I have never found an art gallery in Zambia!

This piece was displayed at Chaminuka and appeared to be local Zambian art on canvas.

Here is a painting by a local artist.

Here is a painted tray that seemed pretty original.

This door is an example of older  Zambian wood carving.

I am not certain if this piece was older but I quite liked it.

So there sat my little easel for almost two years and finally I sent my paints and easel home with my daughter when she visited.  I was just too busy and lacked inspiration to "give it a go" again.

One P-day we met a man who was actually painting with oils.

I was so excited and introduced myself and chatted with him about his work and where he got his supplies.

It turns out that in Lusaka, a city of 1.5 million people, there are only two places that sell oil painting materials.  I had already found both of them.  By the way,  the charcoal on the table he had gathered from along the road on the way so he could cook when he got home.  I was honoured to be with a true artist, one that HAS to paint or he will die.

This is the first supplier of art materials.  The cabinet is located in a very small museum in the Agricultural Fairgrounds.  These are the items for sale for local artists.

The only other place in town was located at a brick oven pizza cafe that also sold art from mostly
 ex-pat artists and had a very small room with supplies for sale.

This was the door to that room.  It was mostly open on Wednesday mornings when ex-pat artists would come together to paint.

I especially like this painting that was on display in the pizza parlour or "Zebra Cafe".

Once a year the mall sponsors a display of paintings from the local schools and others can show off their work also.  It was a pleasure looking at that work.  However, I must admit that I have seen much American high school art that out shined this display.

I just don't see much artistic flair in the lives of Zambians as a whole.  Malawi has much more of an artistic leaning in their dress and style and even in the little touches that everyone puts on their homes and in their yards.  It can't be just economics because Malawi is a poorer country than Zambia.

Zambia does have one piece of art that I greatly admire.  It is the FREEDOM statue that commemorates the struggle for independence.  The idea was taken from a real event when a freedom fighter was taken in chained handcuffs to the central police station and was asked to break the chain if he could, and it did break.  Of course the chains were not the size depicted in the statue but it was an inspirational event.  He was a well built man and the face on the statue is the face of the real freedom fighter.

So you hear my disappointment with Zambian art but what right do I have to complain as I have contributed nothing in my two years here.  "The proof is in the pudding", so I will have to go to work when I return home and see if I can improve my skills.