Zimbabwe in Design


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Running: From May to June 2017
Duration: Approx. 2 Months

 Five Stories in Zimbabwean Design

As the National Gallery of Zimbabwe celebrates its 60th Anniversary this year, we have chosen to look back at design precedents that have impacted on our current design aesthetic. The show reveals design is not new to Zimbabwe and that iconic designs have their roots in utility, trends, communication and technology to create a strong sense of identity and desirability.
The Zimbabwe InDesign exhibition outlines the country’s creative endeavor through five different angles of utility in order to acquaint the viewer with the historical creative consciousness which the nation possesses. Applied Design on traditional structure is part of an ornate form of decoration and embellishment which is deeply rooted in Southern African culture. The Material value of the application of motifs, niches and patterns to the built structure not only serves as a way to upgrade the structure, but  it also a serves to imbue the structure with identities and values that are owned by the occupants.
Material culture is another facet of the exhibition which is deeply rooted in the physical object and the means in which it is used. Time and space are highly influential and from an ethnographical point of view, objects exude a traditional sense of identity as opposed to the contemporary objects.
A shift to the body is covered in Fashion; the expressive nature and politics of the body are illustrated. The forms of identity vary from ethnicity to caste and creed, the devices associated with the individual are a key indicator of the persona. Influenced more change in tastes and appearance as the nation entered the post-independence dispensation.
Without shifting away from the body, Hair possessed a similar civic power; used in matters of symbolic representation for age, influence and ethnicity. With the transit of time, the stylization of the hair became many things, from a status symbol to a mark of faith and a socio- political symbol. Archival references mark the major aspect of this section.  
The development of Graphic Design over the decades can be traced through the illustrated catalogues from exhibitions which were often accompanied by posters. Colour, lettering and layout shift throughout time with evident changes in taste.  The Gallery presents a section of handmade posters, mainly created in-house as advertising tools for its yesteryear shows. A section dedicated to the study of the National flag makes an attempt to reconstruct the Zimbabwean flag as close as possible to its original template.  The Flag has been reproduced continuously over the last 37 years, unfortunately losing some of the elements in the normative banner.
As we mark our 60th Anniversary, it is interesting to note how supportive Corporations were of exhibitions for the benefit of artistic excellence and public consumption.