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Wood Carving by Boniface Chikwenhere
28 February 2009
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Taku-Tenda Driftwood Creations
Was it Aristotle who made the claim that "Art completes what nature cannot"? Perhaps in fairness to nature, it might be more correct to rather say, "Art completes what nature has not yet had the time to finish." For certainly, many artists will with brushes or carving chisels add finishing strokes to the scenes or images they mimic from nature, simply freezing up some parts that are as they want them to look, and speeding up the maturing of others. Boniface Chikwenhere is such an artist - with a difference.
Boniface finds his raw material in nature's recycle bin, recovering bits of driftwood that using both instinct and imagination, he affords new life and form. The results are intriguing works of art that retain the weathered character of their downward slide into decomposition, but also proudly bear a new or renewed aspect, reflecting the many faces of the spirit of African.
On Saturday 28 February 2009, Boniface will be demonstrating his carving skills and techniques, showing how he forges an incomplete metamorphosis on driftwood to produce lifelike abstractions of familiar facets of African life.
Boniface is 28 years old and hails from Zimbabwe. Carving is in his blood as he was born into a family that has been practising the skill of carving for many generations. Boniface tells, "During school holidays we as children would be given tasks by our uncles to polish their artwork and along the way we would be taught a few of their tricks and techniques, just bits and pieces really, that did not light my passion at that stage"
While he did not take to the craft as a child, these seeds planted by his elders did eventually grow and a couple of years back he began to take carving seriously. Since then he admits, "With each pieces I make I develop more respect for both this form of art and for the crafter as a professional."
"Living with art positively requires some effort" he claims, "but at the end of the day the effort is well rewarded! Art taps into our emotions, deepens our humanity and makes us more aware of our surrounding environment", Boniface adds.
"Driftwood creations in abstract form demands mastery of a unique art, giving life to dead wood. It has become a passion for me because each bit of wood I use has an emotion or vision it wished to express, and in my work with that piece of wood, I must find and reveal that inner secret. Forcing my own will, story or theme upon the wood leads to disappointed, so a subtle interaction is required between artist and art work."
"I do not try to transform the wood, just release its hidden emotions. And in the wood I find pain, ululation, suffering, cheering, lovers, the hunter and the hunted, caring mothers, abused women, and many other expressions of life in Africa."
"My driftwood art in abstract is in fact a basic form of human expression, a natural part of life that encompasses the social, economic and political achievements and struggles of the modern society that we can neither ignore nor run away from."
Boniface explains it is the timing of the harvesting of driftwood from its natural resting place that is the first important action that defines and gives character to the end product. He adds, "Pieces of driftwood that I reject this year are just left where they are and will mature in subsequent years to reveal their desires and inner beauty."
He explains further, "When carving we use unique and antique methods that have been passed down for many generations. This included the mbezo, a small hoe-like tool that is used to chip away unwanted material. Other tools like chisels, axes and even broken pieces of glass are also used to add the finishing touches to the final sculpture."
"I am inspired by air, marine and land flora and fauna, and of course also the human form. In the future I want to experiment with a fusion of recycled materials to combine with driftwood to produce eco-friendly artefacts that will remind us of our need to preserve and conserve our ecosystem. Already I make use of old wrought iron to make garden craftwork."
Boniface invites all visitors to the Country Craft Market on 28 February to visit his stall, see him at work, and exchange ideas on this art form.
Last Updated 02 November 2017 12:47