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Livingstone hosts first arts gallery

ART YAK with CHANDA MWENYA
THE Livingstone art gallery that was commissioned in the tourist capital, Livingstone, last month is a milestone development in the country’s art industry.
For a long time, Zambian artists have longed for an ideal exhibition space. In the past, private institutions have emerged to provide some makeshift platforms where visual arts have been thriving.
The defunct Mpapa Gallery has gone down in history as the main space that showcased some of the best talents in the 1980s before closing down at the dawn of the 1990s.
During its time, Mpapa hosted veteran artists like Henry Tayali, Style Kunda, Cynthia Zukas, and Patrick Mweemba, among others.
Other spaces like the defunct Zambia Art Centre equally played an essential role in promoting visual arts.
Twaya Art Gallery, Portico Restaurant and Zebra Crossing Abba House are some of the platforms that have continued to provide artists with space for exhibition.
The lack of ideal exhibition space has left artists with no choice but to look for alternative avenues to parade their works.  In some cases, artists have exhibited from private homes and open markets. The scenario of exhibiting in substandard platforms has been detrimental to the development of the arts industry and it takes away from professional ethics.
However, the individual and collective persuasion of artists for an ideal exhibition space somewhat gave birth to the Henry Tayali Art Centre. It is one space that was transformed from a mere tobacco shed to a state-of-the-art art gallery.  Thanks to the Norwegian government for sponsoring the refurbishment of the art gallery.
Although it has been on rented space for the past 20 years, Henry Tayali has remained a quasi-national art gallery hosting many important solo and group exhibitions.
The birth of the Livingstone Art Gallery, which was entirely built with government funds, will undoubtedly instil morale in artists and enable them work professionally.
For comment write to artyak@rocketmail.com

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