The inspiration of sculptress Lorcadia Ndandarika

BY TINS MAGABA
'Sculpture is not just stone, it is language that speaks to the mind'
Five decades ago, it would have been rare to meet a woman sculptor in Zimbabwe, but Gogo Lorcardia Ndandarika beat her heart into stone in 1969, and she has never turned back, despite the prejudices and discou

ragement’s proffered by the society around her. Though as a young girl she learnt to make clay models of animals and people, it never dawned on her that she would grow to be Zimbabwe’s eminent sculptress.
Her fate in the stone world was sealed when she married the late Joseph Ndandarika, who is considered by many to be the doyen of sculpture in contemporary Zimbabwe, and ranking amongst the world’s major stone artists.
Arguably Zimbabwe’s pioneering female sculptress, Gogo Ndandarika has toured a dozen countries and has literally been all over the globe, thanks to her perseverance and patience. She explains, “People should not despair under difficult circumstances but should soldier on. Patience pays a great deal.”
She bemoans the loss of cultural and traditional values by the younger generation. “Hunhu is an important component in our existence as a Shona people, it is not something that one has to leave locked in a wardrobe and walk naked. It is what we are, it is us.” And “hunhu” is the inspiration behind the HIFA pieces, Mukwasha, Triplets and Lovers, that Gogo spent the week cutting. She further explains, “Respect is also intrinsic, as it is through fellowshipping with others in good confidence that we receive more blessings from God. And without love we’re doomed.”
It is this philosophy of “hunhuism” that defines Gogo Ndandarika’s entire works. Her sculpture pieces are capable of expressing human relationships, the fragility of the earth and the ominous presence of spiritual and traditional powers in our lives. Her works are profoundly spiritual.
Gogo Ndandarika’s pieces have been shown regularly in the annual Zimbabwe Heritage Exhibitions and at numerous local and international galleries and has maintained her position as Zimbabwe’s most prominent female sculptress. In 1990 she was invited to the Commonwealth Games in New Zealand where her sculpture is still on public display until today.
Living in the sprawling town of Chitungwiza, St Mary’s, Gogo Ndandarika is now an elderly woman and heads a large family unit. With her motherly encouragement, some of her children have become established artists, including her son Ronnie Dongo and daughter Virginia Ndandarika who has been based in the UK since 2000. She has also adopted More Nhobe as one of the young people to whom she is teaching the art of sculpture. Her legacy will live forever.
After all, sculpture is not just stone, it is language that speaks to the mind.

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