It all started with a simple birthday present to make a little girl’s birthday extra-special. What it ended up being is a fabulous gift to an entire community.
To surprise his daughter on her birthday, Nigel Philp of ProFeeds, who has the contract with the City of Harare to maintain the Chisipite roundabout, put up a Happy Birthday message and sculpture, and it took off from there.
In the name of community spirit, the concept of the Art Roundabout is to provide a platform for local artists in an effort to promote and inspire them. From the first project, which paid tribute to the Olympics and our Zimbabwean Olympians, to the one that is delighting commuters today – Lucky Lovemore and Lucy the Cow – this community drive has uplifted spirits and brightened many a day. The reaction to the Olympics display was so patriotic and heartening and showed great support for our athletes who were competing in Rio. A likeness of Kirsty Coventry swimming amongst the aloes and a sculpture of Camilla Kruger riding her horse truly brought the Olympic games home to Harare.
Other projects have included metal work sculptures of a jazz band that actually energised the Mackay Brothers to give an impromptu live concert at the roundabout to entertain early morning travellers! The Christmas display got the community involved as they were invited to add decorations throughout the Christmas season. Next up was a fantastic exhibit by artist James Suraji for Valentine’s Day: a loving Valentine’s couple representing, “Solo namutsai”, which means, “they will never separate” in Shona.
The tribute to the Azaluna Horse Trials welcomed the visiting nations of Zambia, Namibia and South Africa in March of this year, and celebrated local artists, Nicole Sanderson and Lee Summerfield, championed the bright and colourful Easter egg display.
According to Charli van der Merwe, who works with Nigel on this project, the excitement surrounding the roundabout has grown exponentially. They have opened it up to any local artists so that anyone with an idea can approach Nigel and Charli with their creations. They can be contacted through their Facebook page at The Art Roundabout.
What a super community effort in Harare to bring happiness and joy through art in such an unexpected way.
Photos and articles by Onyx (Tirivarase)