ZimArt’s Rice Lake Gallery hosting fundraiser for rural Zimbabwean school

"It's an opportunity to support the artists and to support the charity, it's a win-win," said Fran Fearnley, owner and curator of ZimArt's Rice Lake Gallery.

Nestled in the rolling hills near Bailieboro, Ont., you’ll find ZimArt’s Rice Lake Gallery, an immersive outdoor art gallery featuring Shona sculptures from Zimbabwe.

“We are in our 22nd year here,” said owner and curator, Fran Fearnley. Everything that people see when they come to the gallery is from Zimbabwe. It is all hand-carved and I represent about 50 artists altogether.”

Now, she is working to give back to the artists and people of Zimbabwe through work with ZimKids, an Ontario not-for-profit.

“Our biggest accomplishment has been building a primary school in rural Zimbabwe,” she said. “Until that point students were sitting on dirt floors in tobacco barns.”

To raise money for supplies and resources, Fearnley is hosting the Art in the Garden Fundraiser on Sept. 4. Local musicians and artisans will be at the open air gallery, with a portion of the days proceeds going to ZimKids.

She said along with local wares, they will be showcasing work from woman artists in Zimbabwe.

“It’s an opportunity to support the artists and to support the charity. It’s a win-win,” said Fearnley.

The gallery is five acres, with stone sculptures installed throughout the grounds.

“It is all stone. Zimbabwe, which means house of stone, has over 200 varieties of stone and in many cases, it is the artists that name the stone,” said Fearnley.

“They will use descriptive terms like fruit serpentine because it looks like fruit or leopard stone, because the spots in the stone look like a leopard’s skin.”

Typically, an artist travels from Zimbabwe to the gallery to teach people about the traditional art form, but Fearnley said this year they were unable to, due to the pandemic.

She said she is hopeful they will be able to travel again next year and until then, she is grateful the public can attend the gallery.

The Art in the Garden Fundraiser runs Saturday, Sept. 4 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., and the gallery is open until Thanksgiving.

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