Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Chapungu: Sculpture in the Garden

Powell Gardens' CHAPUNGU, Nature, Man & Myth sculptures are carefully being placed in the garden. This display of art in the garden is scheduled to open on May 10 but to place more than 50 sculptures weighing a ton or more each takes time. A visit now will give you a preview of what is to come but the viewing the display in its entirety with proper interpretation will provide the best experience.

Troy Young in our maintenance department uses our backhoe to pull the sculpture from its crate and transfer it to a garden vehicle. The sculpture is "Horse" by Ephraim Chaurika, made of serpentine and weights 1,600 lbs. The artist stated "When I saw a horse for the first time, it took my breath away. So strong and proud and yet so beautiful. I will always try to capture that in the stone."
Here Troy gently lowers "Horse" to a garden truckster.

The final destination is reached by a Bobcat where Powell Gardens' maintenance staff and Chapungu curatorial staff make the final placement. Note the sheets of plywood laid down to not disturb the ground or brick paths. You will find "Horse" in the Perennial Garden.
The sculptures are arranged in a story of themes and Nature can be observed in the Perennial Garden. This sculpture is "Wild Horses" by Fungayi Mwarowa.
Look for "Myth" sculptures on the Island Garden to the Rock & Waterfall Garden. "The Mudzimu Bull" sculpture by Joseph Ndandarika is made of serpentine and can be seen on the Island Garden. "The sekuru (respected elder) has died. We pass his spirit into a young bull. After two years the bull will be killed and the spirit is released to the ancestors."
"Man" themed sculptures are in the landscape between the visitor center and the lake. "Chief's Advisor" by Joe Mutasa is made of lepidolite. "The advisor presents a balanced picture so that chief can make a fair assessment."

The most moving of the sculptures is "Melancholy Girl" of opal by Tapfuma Gutsa. This front on shot startled me and I can't explain the beam of distorted light off the sculpture's head. Tapfuma states: "As a child I was so happy and so carefree. Now I am saddened by my life and our family circumstances."
We are so blessed in this country I cannot imagine a life in such a country of turmoil like Zimbabwe.
The sculptures are very beautiful and masterful. They tell a universal story of the human experience, very moving if you take the time to carefully observe their nuances and read the artist's story.
All photographs taken by Alan Branhagen on April 8, 2008 at Powell Gardens.

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