Crafts in Zimbabwe

The difference between crafts and arts is an age-long debate. Crafts do not belong to arts, some say, because they are mass-produced on demand, not created from inner inspiration. ”Airport art” is the condescending term for the artless but art-simulating goods. Yet the difference is not all that easy to draw. In Zimbabwe handicraft has been consciously promoted as an income-generating activity by, for example, Msilikazi Crafts and Arts Centre in Bulawayo and BAT studios in Harare.

Many products, which should be called handicraft, are made with creative talent and technical refinement. This is true of some textile, like the batik textiles made in the Danikho project and of many ingenious ways of using scrap metal to visualize animals. For tourists? Yes, but much of the recognised art products, too, go to foreign buyers.

The two makers of handicraft interviewed here both have some arts training. Margaret Majo got her first training from a German volunteer, and then enrolled in the Harare Polytechnic. She then started specializing in mini-paintings on bottle tops. Wellington Machezera , was approached by Methodist women as one of the street kids parking cars, and was offered an arts course, which enabled him to earn some money for wire-art post-cards.

Interviews with:

Majo, Margaret

Machezera, Wellington

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