Weya artists paint to live

Weya art has its origins in Manicaland province and today it provides an important source of livelihood for many people.

Irene Karuva with some of the artwork she sells to put her children through school.
Irene Karuva with some of the artwork she sells to put her children through school.

It originated in the 1980’s in rural Chiendambuya in Rusape and takes its name from the Weya Community Training Centre founded by Amon Shonge from Germany.

Pioneers of Weya Art worked under the tutorage of a German volunteer, Ilse Noy, who arrived at the Weya Community Training Centre at the end of 1987.

Weya art in Zimbabwe is dominated by female artists. The artists use various mediums that include applique, sadza paintings and embroidery to create unique, colourful works.

Irene Karuva (37) of Ruwa is one artist who has been able to make a living from selling Weya artifacts. Karuva’s first involvement with this colourful art was in 2003 at the Weya Community Centre in Rusape after which she went to join the Zimbabwe Artists Project in 2005.

Since then, Weya art has become the means of survival for her and her family.

“I have been surviving on trading Weya artifacts. I have clients in Borrowdale where I sell my wares every Sunday. I also sell some of my artifacts at Chapungu

Gallery as well as the National Art Gallery of Zimbabwe,” said Karuva.

Karuva and some of her counterparts have exhibited at the 2010 World Cup held in South Africa, the Harare International Festival of the Arts in 2011 and 2010 and at the Borrowdale Art Fair held last year.

“During exhibitions we usually record a high number of customers and that enables us to get more cash,” said Karuva.

Karuva told The Zimbabwean that she uses Weya art to display household goods such as trays, plates, cups, dustbins and teapots.

“I have been able to send my three kids to school using the cash that I get from selling these artifacts. I have grown to take this art seriously because it has enabled me to survive,” said Karuva.

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Post published in: Entertainment