2018 marks the 5th year, through our Shop that we have been supporting ArtPeace Zimbabwe, a co-operative of talented stone sculptors made homeless by the Mugabe government
These artists lost everything but continued their work in the safety of Silveira House, a charity run by Jesuit priests.
John Simpson from St Andrew’s URC, Walton-on-Thames began helping these artists over ten years ago. With daily contact through social media, John ensures the best carvings are selected and brought over to the UK by friends and assisted by the international development charity CAFOD. Once a sculpture has been sold in the Cathedral Shop, the proceeds are then sent direct to each artist and can prove to be a real life changer.
The Very Reverend, Andrew Nunn Dean of Southwark writes: “It was in 2013 whilst leading a retreat in the URC Conference Centre (sadly now closed) alongside Lake Windermere in the Lake District that I first came across ArtPeace. In the Conference Centre shop there was a display of the work with which we have become so familiar and alongside it a leaflet explaining where it had come from. I picked up a leaflet and brought it back to the Cathedral. From that rather unlikely beginning a fantastic relationship has developed with the project based in Harare and most importantly with the artists. Two highlights stand out for me. The first was being able to visit ArtPeace when I was visiting Zimbabwe a couple of years ago. Wandering around their base in the suburbs of the capital city, seeing the work in action and meeting those whose work I already knew was a real blessing.
The second highlight was then using a figure of the Holy Family as the official Cathedral Christmas card in 2016 and seeing a photograph of proud artists holding up their card when it had been delivered to ArtPeace.
Of course, the most important thing has been the money raised through sales in the Cathedral Shop (just over £14,000 over the last four years!) and the way in which, through art, awareness has been raised of the hard life that these artists face. And, for me, it all began in that lakeside shop!”
ArtPeace write: ‘We started this journey with Southwark about five years ago and it has been an interesting fulfilling one. Our partnership has been one of tremendous benefit to us and it is our hope that the work we provide, often drawing on our traditional culture, has been uplifting to Southwark as well as their customers. We are delighted our work is bought by many tourists spreading our art to many parts of the world. Through our partnership, our families are fed along with our extended families, who are an integral part of our lives. We not only get food on the table but crops in our fields as well so our cycle is quite full from the studio to the field. The monies we receive contribute significantly towards sending our children to school and footing various medical expenses as medical insurance over the years has proved unaffordable for the ordinary Zimbabwean citizen. We thank you sincerely for your partnership with us”
In Shona we have a saying "karere mangwana kagokurerawo." It means when you are kind, others will be kind to you. May God reward your kindness and generosity”.
For further information about ArtPeace please visit here.