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I have been spending my free time immersed in the pages of Zimbabwe: Art, Symbol and Meaning, by Gillian Atherstone and Duncan Wylie,m a beautifully illustrated art book, that is not just good to look at the book, but is a culturally important publication documenting a 30-year journey of gathering information into Zimbabwe’s artistic and cultural legacies. 

Luxuriously weighty, with stunning colour images. The book opens a window into the objects that hold significance in the domestic and spiritual lives of Zimbabwe’s peoples, living in some of the remotest areas of the country. Zimbabwe: Art, Symbol and Meaning predominately highlights the work of the Shona, Ndebele, and Tonga.

The book is a valiant effort in tracing Zimbabwe’s artistic history starting from the mighty medieval city that was Great Zimbabwe to the present day. I say ‘valiant’ in reference to the gaping holes caused by colonial looting, environmental degradation over centuries, and the destruction of works during the liberation war. Those holes make decoding meaning and piecing together a continuous timeline challenging. There is much that is lost to history, but much also remains to be preserved for now and the future. With that sentiment in mind, one of the aims of this book is to encourage more books to fill in the gaps of the country’s artistic cultural heritage.

Zimbabwean-born Gillian Atherstone is an expert on African Art, and was National Gallery of Zimbabwe’s first post-colonial director. Throughout her tenure she researched, collected, and documented examples of Zimbabwe’s artefacts that made their way into exhibitions and the National Gallery Permanent Collection. Zimbabwe: Art, Symbol and Meaning was produced in collaboration with her son, the artist and photographer Duncan Wylie, who took the majority of the images seen throughout the book’s pages.

Zimbabwe: Art, Symbol and Meaning is a valuable resource intended to inspire designers and artists. Purchases of the hardbound editions will fund the publication of softback editions to be distributed to schools in Zimbabwe.

– Tapiwa

For further information and to purchase the book and special art prints visit: www.zimbabwe-art.com

[Image credits: The images shown are copyright Duncan Wylie. If downloaded and used elsewhere please credit accordingly.]

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