This collection showcases various significant time periods of contemporary art in Zimbabwe, and South Africa.
In Zimbabwe, this collection captures the development of art in the 1990s. Following the independence of Zimbabwe in 1980, a new formal school was established to support arts education, the BAT Workshop Studio (sponsored by British American Tobacco until the mid-2000s). The BAT Workshop studio was influential in shaping a wave of important young Zimbabwean artists in the late 1980s and 1990s. This group of artists, many of whom lived tragically short lives, can be loosely described as responding to the country’s changes post-independence with an individual aesthetic and voice. With the support of the BAT Workshop Studio, the iconic Gallery Delta, and the National Gallery in Zimbabwe, they experimented with techniques and materials to capture everyday people and landscapes. These artists were considered revivers of painting, rebelling against the previous sculpture art of the School of Shona, which at the time was heavily promoted by Frank McEwen of the Zimbabwe National Gallery, Tom Bloomfield of the Tengenenge Sculpture Gardens in Shurugwi, and Roy Guthrie of the Chapungu Sculture Gardens in Harare. The artists in this collection include George Churu, Hilary Kashiri, Never Kayowa, Fasoni Sibanda, Ishmael Wilfred, and Richard Witikani. In addition, the collection includes works of: Mischek Gudo, Shepherd Mahufe, and Tackson Muvezwa, artists who were not from the BAT Workshop but were active in Zimbabwe during this period; Thomas Mukarobwa, an internationally renowned Zimbabwean artist from the Shona School of Zimbabwe; as well as Goshta Barankinya, Luis Meque, and Justine Gope, who were originally from Mozambique and exhibited widely in Zimbabwe during this time period.
The collection also features instrumental artists in Zambian history including William Miko, Stephen Kappata, Godfrey Setti, and Henry Tayali. These artists were integral in the history of Zambian contemporary art, which spans over fifty years. The Lechwe Trust founded in 1986 by Cynthia Zukas, Bente Lorenz, and Tayali, played an important part in supporting arts and education since its opening. Many artists participated in the activities of the trust including Setti, who served on the Lechwe Trust Committee and Miko, who is currently the Vice Chairperson of the trust. In the late 1980s, Miko founded the Zambia National Visual Arts Council. In 1992, Setti served as the Chairman of the international Mbile workshop (and Miko is credited with coining the name of the workshop). Today, history continues to be written with numerous institutions supporting arts in Zambia. This includes the Twaya Art Gallery at the Intercontinental Hotel, which was founded by Miko.
Finally, this collection also includes three artists currently active in South Africa: Regi Bardavid, Kagiso Pat Mautloa, and Selwyn Samuel Pekeur. These artists showcase the variety in South African art: Bardavid focuses on abstract expressionism; Mautloa’s subject matter is inspired by music, street life, and urban landscape and draws on international influences such as Cubist sculptures; and Pekeur explores in his art using humour, bold colours, and shapes.