We would be very happy if you could join us for the official launch of the “My Beautiful Home” on July 16 at 17:30. The exhibition and launch of the project showcase the amazing painted huts and the artists which featured in the inaugural competition last year, in a series of stunning photographs by Dr. Andre Van Rooyen. The photographs will be on sale, the proceeds of which will go towards running the competition.
The project, being run in the Matopos, aims to encourage and reward the practice of decorating huts in the traditional way using natural pigments such as ash, coal and soil…as a means of highlighting and maintaining the art and culture of the area. The project will culminate in a prize-giving ceremony, with prizes being awarded for the best exterior and the best interior designs, in mid-September at the Amagugu Centre on the Kezi Road. All competitors will be invited and it will be an opportunity for a celebratory feast with traditional music and dance.
About the project: My Beautiful Home Project
In September 2014, Veronique Attala from Squeaky Clean, Pathisa and Butho Nyathi from Amagugu International Heritage Centre, John Knight from National University of Science and Technology, Violette KeeTui, Andre Van Rooyen and Cliford Zulu from the National Gallery of Zimbabwe in Bulawayo collaborated to implement the inaugural My Beautiful Home hut painting competition in Ward 16 and 17, Matobo district. The popularity of hut painting among rural communities in Matobo district is in decline rendering hut painting a skill in threat of extinction. The paintings generally depict local culture, rituals customs and traditions and have thus been a mechanism for preservation of same. The paintings further enhance the aesthetic beauty of homesteads and add value to the overall ambience of local communities as they exist within the broader context of a World Heritage Site. The less hut painting is practiced, the fewer locals participate in enhancing cultural preservation in Matobo district. Currently there is limited appreciation of artistic pursuit as a source of livelihood in general. Furthermore local communities are not comprehensively oriented towards benefitting from tourism activity in the greater Matobo area. However it has been observed that the paintings are popular among tourists who often pay to view and take pictures of the paintings.
Painted huts therefore have the potential to be a key attraction to local and international tourists thus enabling local communities to earn an income from what is otherwise a standard cultural practice. Reduced prominence of hut painting thus erodes these possibilities and the associated financial benefits to the communities living in the Matobo Hills. In addition, the few who practice hut painting have mastered the physical skill but there is still a deficiency in interpreting some of the drawings, meaning the intangible cultural heritage of the paintings remains unexplored. This therefore undermines the cultural value and significance of the drawings – leading to the paintings being art for art’s sake. Local level knowledge and skill of hut painting also exists as an oral tradition with very limited literature published on the subject matter. Thus there is no optimum promotion of the practice and resultantly limited contribution of local cultural practice to scholarly inquiry. There is therefore a need to expand the scope of research on hut painting for purposes of documenting the practice for posterity and also facilitating its ease of promotion to an international audience.
Architecturally there exists a mismatch between the traditional structures of Zimbabwe, found in the rural areas such as Matobo Hills, and the colonial, modern or predominantly western styled urban buildings. There is a danger that if this trend continues Zimbabwe will be left with little to distinguish it from any other part of the world as poorly adapted versions of bungalows replace the culturally rich, climatically sustainable and economically viable homesteads to which these decorations are applied.
By recognizing the pride with which these homes are painted, it is hoped that the value of this homegrown architecture will be encouraged to develop and eventually influence and enrich their urban counterparts. The major goal is to contribute to revitalisation of home painting as a cultural practice in Matobo district
this will be done by the way of stimulating widespread practice of home painting in local Matobo communities, conduct research, document and promote visual artistic traditions reflected in painted homes and explore the intangible cultural heritage resident in the decorative motifs.
My Beautiful Home Team with support from Alliance Francaises of Bulawayo
For donations and Details please contact the curator, Cliford Zulu: firstname.lastname@example.org