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.
1976 Goodman Gallery – Johannesburg, South Africa
1979 Standard Bank Gallery – Harare, Zimbabwe
1983 Commonwealth Institute – London
1983 National Gallery of Zimbabwe
1983 Gallery 10 London
1986 Gallery Delta Harare, Zimbabwe
1987 African Influence Gallery Boston, Mass USA
1989 The Gallery Shona Sculpture Harare, Zimbabwe
1995 Retrospective Exhibition (1962 – 1995) National Gallery of Zimbabwe
1995 Reece Galleries New York USA
1963 6th Annual Exhibition National Gallery Zimbabwe
1964 International Art Exhibition Lusaka, Zambia
1964 7th Annual Exhibition National Gallery Zimbabwe
1965 Commonwealth Arts Festival London
1965 8th Annual Exhibition National Gallery Zimbabwe
1968 Rhodesian Sculpture Johannesburg, South Africa
1969 Contemporary African Arts Camden Centre, London
1970 Sculpture Contemporained De Vukutu – Musee d’art Monderne De la Ville De Paris
1971 Sculpture Contemporaines Des Shona D’Afrique Musee Rodin – Paris
1972 Shona Sculpture of Rhodesia – ICA London
1973 15th Annual Exhibition National Gallery Zimbabwe
1974 African Artist Festival – Chicago, IL. USA
1975 The Shona Phenomenone – South African Art Assoc. Joburg, S.A.
1975 Standard Chartered Bank Harare, Zimbabwe
1977 First World Wilderness Congress Exhibition Joburg, S.A.
1977 Rhodesian Sculpture – South African Art Assoc, Pretoria, S.A.
1978 Goodman Gallery Johannesburg, South Africa
1978 Gallery Delta Harare, Zimbabwe
1981 Shona Sculpture Zimbabwe House London
1981 Art in Action Festival Waterperry, England
1981 Art from Africa Commonwealth Institute London
1982 Sculpture & Graphics Gallery Delta Harare, Zimbabwe
1983 Stein Skulpturen Aus Zimbabwe Frankfurt, Germany
1983 Spirit of Zimbabwe Institute of Directors London
1984 Plaza Studios Chelsea, London
1984 Shona Sculpture – Pulchri Studios The Hague, Holland
1985 Zimbabwe Stone Sculpture – Kresge Art Museum Michigan State Univ. U.S.A.
1985 Contemporary Stone Sculpture From Zimbabwe – Irving Sculpture Gallery Sydney, Australia
1985 Kunschetze Aus Zimbabwe – Frankfurt, Germany
1985 Stein Skulpturen Aus Zimbabwe Vienna, Austria
1986 ‘Soul In Stone’ Sydney, Australia
1987 Zimbabwe Heritage U.N.E.S.C.O. Paris, France
1987 Institution Italo – African Rome, Italy
1987 Irving Sculpture Gallery Sydney, Australia
1987 ‘Soul In Stone’ Melbourne, Australia
1988 ‘Soul In Stone’ Camberra, Australia
1988 Zimbabwe Heritage Exhibition National Gallery Zimbabwe
1989 Shona Sculpture – Robert Steele Gallery – Adelaide, Australia
1990 Artist’s Symposium Auckland, New Zealand
1991 ‘Henry & Nicholas’ Reece Galleries New York, U.S.A.
1992 Stone Sculpture International Symposium Tokyo, Japan
1994 Shona Sculpture Reece Galleries New York, U.S.A.