ART YAK with CHANDA MWENYA
THE Zambia Open University (ZAOU) School of Performing and Fine Art has continued to offer an innovative platform to nurture creative minds in the country.
Since the inception of its performing and fine art school in 2009, the university has trained 26 visual artists and 20 more await graduation later this year.
Even with the seemingly scant number of trained artists by the institution, the development is a mammoth achievement for the country that has had no fine art school since its independence in 1964.
Nevertheless, in its continued efforts to provide art education at tertiary level, ZAOU took a group of 60 students that comprised some second, third and fourth year fine art students on a study trip to Chaminuka Lodge and Game Reserve.
Chaminuka, located east of Lusaka, has a collection of some 1,000 pieces of contemporary fine art as well as ethnic artefacts from Zambia and across the African continent.
Interestingly, Chaminuka collection also includes artefacts that are as old as 400 years and deeply rooted in the ethnic culture of the local communities they were collected from.
Some fetish artefacts in the collection were not necessarily created for art but were actually meant for ritual practices.
And in its contemporary collection, Chaminuka features the works of some of Zambiaâ€™s refined artistes such as Henry Tayali, Godfrey Setti, Lutanda Mwamba and sculptor Flinto Chandia, among others.
While Chaminuka collection includes all genres of visual art and known techniques, it also boasts of antique political works by the late Stephen Kapata.
And with the xenophobic attacks going on in South Africa, the ZAOU-Chaminuka study trip was not just about art for art.
ZAOU head of fine art department William Miko seized the opportunity to present an abstract from his paper Tulipano (We are here), where he discusses the distance between Zambian art, the region and the world.
In the synopsis of his lecture on the sidelines of the study trip, the artist-cum-lecturer further outlined the involvement of Zambian artists in the liberation struggle of southern Africa and the role Chaminuka played in hosting the artists and some of the freedom fighters.
When Zambian artists joined in the liberation struggle, Chaminuka offered an exclusive platform for them to create their works that helped to galvanise the freedom struggle. Henry Tayali, himself, who was politically aware, spent his final working days at Chaminuka before his final breath in Germany.
The role of Chaminuka in the development of the countryâ€™s art was vividly captured by the ZAOU students in their onspot sketches.
Indeed, besides other art platforms such as Villa Lucia, Namwandwe and Lechwe Trust, Chaminuka will continue to be an important stakeholder in the countryâ€™s cultural heritage and a vital platform in the art academia.
ART YAK with CHANDA MWENYA