Artist – Nicholas Mukomberwanra

Nicholas was born in the Buhera District of Zimbabwe in 1940. He attended school at the St. Benedicts Mission in the Makoni district. In 1958 he went to the Serima Mission where Father Groeber was building the Serima Church. Here he started carving in wood, working on religious themes. He carved three angelic figures in wood which can still be seen in the church. In 1961 he left Serima to become a policeman in Harare. When he needed to escape the strain of police work he would ride his motorcycle into the bush where he could work in seclusion for hours. Through the mediation of McEwen it was possible for him, still working as a policeman, to sculpt occasionally at Vukutu in Nyanga. He left the police force in 1976 to devote all his time to sculpting.

Nicholas went on to become the most recognized and awarded sculptor of the Shona Sculpture movement. His skills evolved to emphasize two unique methods of carving: one style expertly employed lines and angles in the stone to create highly refined and modern works of art and, the second style where he carved into the stone subjects with exaggerated human features, such as faces, hands, arms, etc. to create a contemporary look that redefined the direction of the art form. Both of these styles have been widely adopted by many of his contemporaries and they now form the basis for much of the quality work now being done in Zimbabwe. There is no doubt that the influence of Nicholas Mukomberanwa on this art form will continue for a long time to come.

Nicholas saw himself first as a farmer and second as an artist. He was constantly experimenting with new and different types of corn in attempt to maximize his crop in a country plagued with draught. In the later years of his life and aware of his reputation and his position as an artistic spokesperson for the Shona people, Nicholas became strained by his constant search for creativity. Despite his tremendous success and his wide popularity he became burdened by his responsibilities and yearned for the peace and tranquility he felt he needed to be able to reach the next plateau in his art form. This search haunted him right up until his death in 2002.

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