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Zimbabwe: Art scene still lively

Verandah Gallery's annual show provides Zimbabwean artists a chance to shine.

HARARE, Zimbabwe — Imagine the scene: A leafy garden on a Sunday morning in one of the more prosperous districts of this capital city. Denizens inspect an impressive array of paintings for sale while a dixieland jazz band goes through its paces on a shady verandah. Cold lemonade, sandwiches and chocolate brownies keep the kids busy.

It could be one of the English home counties on a summer’s day. Or an Australian suburban scene.
In fact the Verandah Gallery has sponsored the annual event in Harare, Zimbabwe’s capital, since 1992. This year, 50 artists displayed their work with 25 percent of proceeds going to charities including the Emerald Hill School for the Deaf and the Emerald Hill Children's Home.

Daryl Nero, who has also shown his work in Johannesburg and London, includes among his oeuvre Zimbabwean landscapes, wildlife scenes and portraits of Zanzibar island with dhows fishing on an azure blue sea. His captivating paintings of Mozambique’s rich colonial architectural legacy explain why his work is snapped up by collectors. Nero describes the Verandah Gallery as “an essential platform for artists from around the country to be known.”

Its curator, Anna Fleming, also markets postcards and calendars featuring designs by Zimbabwean artists.

She can count on good weather for the July event. It hardly ever rains in Zimbabwe’s southern-hemisphere winter where temperatures hover in the 70s and the cloudless skies provide a perfect outdoor setting. Among the exhibits is a selection of local Shona stone sculptures, the product of younger black craftsmen.