The Shona art movement has been heralded as the most important art movement to come out of Sub-Saharan Africa in the second half of the Twentieth Century. It re-emerged in the early nineteen sixties when Frank McEwen, the English director of the new National Gallery in the capital, Harare (then Salisbury) discovered the work of Joram Mariga and the intuitive and untutored talent that lay within the Shona peoples.
The Shona, who make up about 80% of Zimbabwe’s population have an historic relationship with stone that is unique in Sub-Saharan Africa. In fact, the only major stone ruin from antiquity is in Zimbabwe; the word itself means “Big Houses Made Of Stone” in the Shona language Chapungu Sculptor A young sculptor honing his craft at Chapungu Sculpture Park “Old Zimbabwe” was built between 1250 and 1450 AD and composes the Great Enclosure, which is over 800 feet in circumference and 15 feet wide, and the Hill Complex of walled enclosures. Eight carved soapstone birds were found at Old Zimbabwe, showing that the Shona have had a relationship with stone for centuries.
It has been said that stone sculptors would make great politicians, as their art is the art of compromise. They envision the finished work in the raw chunk of hard stone. The stone pushes back. It becomes a participant in the process, skill tames the stone: but it’s stone, so the unexpected happens. The sculptor is dealing with a material that is hundreds of millions of years old.
The metamorphic Zimbabwean stones are the result of ancient oceans crushed between colliding continental plates at the dawn of Earth’s formation. Impurities, fissures, varying hardness and the odd mistaken blow with a hammer and chisel mean that the sculptor has to adapt, change and compromise as the work evolves.
The principle always remains, however, to create a work of art that will last for centuries. A partnership with an unforgiving medium that requires skill, hard work, understanding, imagination, intimate knowledge of anatomy and the ability to compromise.
For thirty years, Dusty was Managing Director and majority owner of Aardvark Communications Ltd., a successful and respected advertising agency in Bermuda. He also produced over 20 shows over a 5 year period in the mid-1990s for the Jabulani Repertory Company, which he founded in 1993. What few people knew was that Dusty graduated with a degree in sculpture 40 years ago. He returned to his roots in 1999, starting the Crisson & Hind Fine Art Gallery. After visiting numerous African countries, he fell in love with the work of the Shona while on trips to Zimbabwe. Starting with only 25 pieces, 22 years ago, the Gallery has grown in scope, but keeps the personal attention of a small gallery. Every piece in the Gallery is personally selected.
After spending 7 years as co-owner and lead designer for Bermuda.com, Mike eventually started his own web design firm. In September, 2001, he closed the firm for good and Mike retired… without a penny to his name. He was soon writing and producing his own comic strip, “My Kind of Island”, which ran in the local paper. In April, 2002, his dad asked him to join the gallery, and in January, 2003, he travelled to Zimbabwe on a buying trip and promptly fell madly in love with Africa. On this trip, he was clawed by a lion, the voracious beast pictured here, and spent the next three weeks recuperating from the three small welts on his wrist.