Curatorial Work at the National Gallery of Zimbabwe


Curatorial Work
Permanent Collection
National Gallery of Zimbabwe
1993-1995

Chambers performed extensive curatorial work at the National Gallery of Zimbabwe. The following exhibitions are just a few of the many he put together from the Gallery's Permanent Collection.

In pre-colonial Zimbabwe, technology and the arts were successfully combined to produce the material requirements of a culture dating back a millenium. The people of Zimbabwe had developed technology appropriate for the manufacture of tools, implements, weapons, vessels, musical instruments and ornaments of all kinds which demonstrate ingenuity and originality, a sophisticated understanding of the natural environment and above all, a quality of life in which cultural values were fully appreciated. They developed a fine sense of aesthetic understanding and examples of this (and can still be found) comprise the Zimbabwean display. This society and culture has its roots in a history stretching back one thousand years. They settled on the plateau region of modern day Zimbabwe. And pastoral and agricultural activities were the major occupations of these people. The mining and smelting of iron, copper and gold also featured prominently. Ornaments and weaponry were wrought from these metals. Intercontinental trade was one of the most important activities of the Zimbabwe State. Trade goods imported by the rulers of Zimbabwe included fine cloth (machira), beads, brass and copper wire, porcelain, ndoro and other items were introduced and bartered for precious gold and ivory. Gold brought foreigners to Zimbabwe throughout the last one thousand years. Arabs, Swahili and Portuguese traders brought their beads, textiles, ceramics and glassware to exchange for gold and ivory. During the Portuguese phase - lasting from 1500 to 1900 - a number of wholly indigenous industries were revived and took on greater importance for the communities in which they were practiced. Cotton cultivation and weaving were introduced. The reliance on locally forged iron suffered from the competition of imported material. The gradual decline of the local cloth and iron industry accelerated after the effective seizure and annexation of Zimbabwe in the 1890s by the administration of the British South Africa Company which marked the beginning of the colonial era in Zimbabwe's history. Many cultural traditions were suppressed through exposure to Western influences alien to their own culture. Most of these traditions were revived during the struggle against colonialism (Material Goods of Zimbabwe).

 



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“Sunset at the Railroad” by PCV Nicholas Baylor Hall. Namibia, 2011.