Hilary Manuhwa at work

by Barbara Müller June. 20, 2017 2440 views

Some time ago I and my friend were visiting a sculpture park admiring imagination and craftsmanship of the sculptors. I thought it would be great to see a sculptor at work and get to know their artistic process. Sometimes you need to be careful what you wish for because few minutes later someone just called us from the edge of the park. It was one of the artists working there, inviting us to see his workshop and listen to his story. This is how I met Hilary Manuhwa, a Zimbabwean sculptor leading an art business ‘Culture in stone’, where he and other artists run workshops, sell Zimbabwean stone and host exhibitions of their sculptures around the world.

I realised immediately that Hilary has got passion for stone carving. The way he was talking about choosing stone and explaining the creative process until finished sculpture made me more interested in him and I invited him to take part in my project ‘People at work’ to focus on his artwork, create his portraits and find out more about him.

Hilary explaining process of working with the stone.

Hilary explaining process of working with the stone.

Hilary polishing wet surface of the stone with sandpaper and talking about stone qualities..

Hilary polishing wet surface of the stone with sandpaper and talking about stone qualities..

Hilary learned carving in stone from his father, who after initially working with wood decided to change for stone carving. After realising that carving is his gift, Hilary went on to develop his skills. After being an apprentice and a student he became an experienced artist and a business owner exhibiting and selling his sculptures but also inspiring other people to learn stone carving.

Hilary with his tools.

Hilary with his tools.

So how is he doing it? A lot of his sculptures represent animals which he admires, but also humans connected to the natural world. He told me before he starts carving he thinks a lot about the piece. He wants it to be the best, the most beautiful sculpture. The way he works is by creating an attachment with the stone and working on a sculpture for around 6 weeks. It takes patience. Hilary uses simple tools and he doesn’t want to rush. He knows well features of Zimbabwean stone. To bring the best out of the stone he uses various chisels and files to carve the shape, but also sandpaper and wax to smoothen and polish the surface. Before applying wax the stone needs to be heated up because only then it absorbs wax and shows its best qualities and colour. With his skills and passion Hilary transforms an ordinary looking stone into a beautiful work of art.

Please enjoy my photo story and visit Hilary at one of his park exhibitions.

Sculptor's tools.

Sculptor's tools.

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