Art in metal

Art & Design | By Caroline Grobelaar, Fine Artist | 09 May 2015

I was trying to find someone who could make me a mirror, I knew exactly what it needed to look like but had never done anything like it before.  We had a big container in our garden which we were helping a friend renovate into a tuck shop. I looked at all the equipment and thought if we can transform that giant chunk of steel into what we envisioned then we would definitely be able to make my little mirror.  I spoke to Stixon Vhinyu, who was the welder  we had contracted for the container job, I drew the mirror I wanted on the floor in the work shop in chalk and discussed it with him to see if he thought it was possible, he did.  We decided on specs and spaces and the various sizes of steel we would use. 

Once we had made it everyone who saw it wanted one. I love jobs or tasks that have a distinct beginning and end.  This certainly did, standing back and looking at our mirror moulded, ground and then painted to perfection with a smooth glossy finish was all the inspiration needed. It was beautiful and we had made it right here in the work shop.

That was how my love for this art began. I had a million more designs I wanted to make. Stix had been working with steel for years, his level of skill was undeniable and basically he showed me that whatever I could think of we could make.  He showed me how to bend, twist and shape the steel. It didn’t take long for me to realize that the potential was limitless. My mind revelled at the vast expanse of all that was possible.
Practicality is very necessary. If it does not fit or does not function then it is not going to work. This is where our third and final member of our team’s strong point lies. A year and a half later I employed Elliot Chipomho as a gardener. He also took an interest in the goings on in the work shop and with his practical, organized and energetic approach he soon proved that his input was invaluable and completed our team perfectly.  I would never have called myself an artist, Stix often stands and shakes his head when I produce a new sketch of an idea. Only after a lot of explaining and more sketches or after half of the fabrication work is done do we finally reach a mutual understanding of where the piece is going. 

I think of what we do as more of a craft or skill set but in the end the product is a form of art. The furnishing you garnish your house with is an art and an extension of you, if you don’t like something it wouldn’t be in your home. People complimented us on the quality and finishing’s of our work, that’s when I scouted around and realized we did produce very neat creative pieces, now all I needed was to find outlets to showcase our work.  Fortunately for me Harare has a number of Fairs where craftsmen can exhibit. Yes some are filled with mass produced factory items but a select few were full of artists amazing work, we attended some of these and they went well. I managed to get a small stand at Doon estate were local artist’s exhibit and sell their wares. We also display at Periwinkle gift shop number 167, Enterprise road and our newest exciting spot is KwaMurongo Galleria at number 9 Normandy, I love it as they serve delicious traditional food and the gallery is filled with hand made Zimbabwean paraphernalia, making it the perfect setting for locals or visitors.

Luckily for me our work seems to speak for itself, it’s mainly word of mouth referrals for curtain rods that keep us busy. I Love this because it gives me the opportunity to meet people who are in the process of improving their homes. We all seem to have an idea of how we would like to improve or change our home, this allows me to collaborate with individuals and incorporate their ideas into finished home art or functional accessories.