When the stone talks

“I open the rocks. The fruit is inside.”

By Nadine Hennelly

Last Wednesday the gallery at Victoria Hall was brimming with art lovers for the opening of a well received group show, “When the stone talks”, an exhibition of Shona stone sculptures from Zimbabwe. Zimbabwean sculptors give their skill and knowledge of nature, visual memory and infinite patience, to an art form that reflects the legacy of centuries of living close to the land.

Zimbabwean sculptors give their skill and knowledge of nature, visual memory and infinite patience, to an art form that reflects the legacy of centuries of living close to the land.

What’s striking about this group show is the range of styles of the various pieces on view. I also had the great pleasure of talking with this year’s artist in residence, Walter Mariga, whose father was one of the founding members of the Shona art movement in the 60’s, and who taught Walter how to carve stone. Although his work is very different from his father’s, there is still a strong link between the two which Walter touches upon in my video interview.

Hear the gallery owner Fran Fearnley’s advice on collecting this type of art, as well as Walter’s demonstration of how to carve a stone with a mallet and chisel, all of which can be seen by watching this video.

I had the chance to talk with Fran Fearnley the gallery owner who hails originally from Britain. Her parents were diplomats and they helped foster her life long love of the arts. On a trip to South Africa several years ago, she discovered the beautiful hand carved sculpture from the Shona art movement. In 2000, the former journalist decided to open up an outdoor sculpture gallery in a park on her property in Ontario, overlooking Rice Lake, and devoted entirely to Shona stone sculpture. She now represents just over 50 artists from Zimbabwe, whom she personally selects and she travels there at least once a year.

When the Stone Talks, a group exhibition of hand carved stone Sculpture from Zimbabwe is on view at the Gallery at Victoria Hall here in Westmount until October 7.

Photos in slider: Ron Harris


photo: Nadine Hennelly

Nadine Hennelly worked and lived all over the world. A former committee member of the Musée des Beaux Arts de Montreal, she was also on the Committees for the NYC Ballet, The Whitney Museum, The Bachelor’s Ball, Knock out and The Kitchen in New York City. She also contributed her creative talents to The Alzheimer’s Group, la Fondation Les Petits Rois, and Le Garde Manger pour Tous. She can be reached at nadinehnadine@aol.com



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