Zimbabwe's historic struggle is set in stone at Kew

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The Independent Online

More than 60 giant stone sculptures, representing the greatest contemporary collection of African art seen in this country, have been installed in Kew Gardens.

More than 60 giant stone sculptures, representing the greatest contemporary collection of African art seen in this country, have been installed in Kew Gardens.

They form a new exhibition: "Chapungu. Custom and Legend: A Culture in Stone", which is to open at the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew, south- west London, on 27 May. They illustrate a variety of themes of African life, including the role of women, nature and environment, and village and family life.

They also reflect the political turbulence experienced by Zimbabwe. Together We Shall Die, by Joseph Ndandarika, for example, is a reference to the country's war of independence. Mr Ndandarika, who has been described as the greatest African sculptor of his generation, died at the age of 50 from tuberculosis after he contracted Aids.

Another sculpture reflecting the struggle in Zimbabwe is End of Hope by Amos Supuni, the youngest sculptor in the exhibition.

Most of the pieces are on loan from the Chapunga Sculpture Park in Harare. Many weigh more than a ton, and some are more than 9ft tall. The placing of the statues in the exhibition, which will be opened by Lord Attenborough, was supervised by Roy Guthrie, the director of the Harare park.

Mr Guthrie said: "Stone sculpture ... has been de-scribed as the most important art development of the 20th century in Africa.

"Some present the mythology of the spirit world, but others reflect the reality of what is happening in Zimbabwe."

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