By Trevor Makonyonga
For most people, the art of painting is usually attached to class. Rarely would one imagine that one of the most inspiring art studios in Zimbabwe would thrive in one of the oldest high-density suburbs in Zimbabwe, Mbare. Having a reputation of being dingy, harbouring toxicity and a den of thieves, Mbare seems to have less of a pleasant reputation but that is the place where CaliGraph got to settle in.
For one to imagine how the prolific artists behind CaliGraph have managed to paint away the negativity that usually accompanies the name Mbare using murals is completely insane.
Bustop TV spoke to Caligraph’s Marcus Zvinavashe who easily transferred a positive vibe towards the energy around why they settled for Mbare.
Zvinavashe said that despite stereotypes, working from Mbare has made them feel at home and felt the community’s belief in them.
Zvinavashe said, “Our work speaks volumes in high traffic communities and what better represents Harare than Mbare. Being in a space like Mbare is home and it represents the diverse cultural influences that also inspire the work we do. The journey continues to be challenging yet rewarding. The ability to create and to be in a space where people believe in the work and what we do is definitely inspiring.”
It will be a major mistake to omit the influence of Dutch artist Roy “Karski” Valk on the art of murals in Mbare. Valk was part of the Harare International Festival of Arts (HIFA) 2010 exchange programme and is famous for painting a mural of a then eight-year-old Nisha on the most visible part of Matapi flats.
Probably, it could be against this background that the community have managed to embrace Caligraph’s activity within Mbare.
Zvinavashe said, “We’re always about storytelling of true, authentic Zimbabwean stories from a commentary and celebratory manner and it continues to be one of the key pillars of why we do what we do. That said the community continues to embrace our stories through the images, colours and words that we paint in our shared spaces.”
Caligraph have painted Mbare bus Terminus, Mbare Stoddart and surrounding areas. They also do art on buses, cars, and other immovable and movable objects.
“We would love to leave our mural trail in Africa. We have a Rhodes like dream too. We want to paint from Cape to Cairo even better in all the 54 countries in Africa,” said Zvinavashe.
As the arts continue to grow, mural artists as Caligraph have a lot to add to the culture.