Behind a sculptured metal bull adorning metal spectacles and putting on metal shoes stands a relaxed dread locked young man. His right hand resting on his exceptionally magnificent work of art. The young artistic is none other than Shurugwi born Coaster Mkoki. Through his artistic work, the young man has travelled to places. He has been to South Africa and the United Kingdom where his works scooped awards in Cape Town, Johannesburg and London.
His mission statement speaks volume about his artistic talent. “Through my work I wish to reflect the time behind and the time ahead. I create my art in response to the challenges of working in different places and environments”. As a sculptor, he familiarizes his work to the Stone Age paintings and believes that sculpture is a form of visual communication which is non-verbal but places strong emphasis to the society.
Sculpture can be traced as far back as the first attempt of pictographic communication that was used to convey an idea in Mesopotamia in about 350 BC. As a moulder the stone was a medium of mass communication since it involves drawing paintings and photographs that convey information that has political, social, economic and historical as well as religious connotations
In a face to face interview with Caven Masuku from Midlands State University, Mkoki shared his social background.
“I was born in the Midlands mining town of Shurugwi but grew up in Gweru’s Mkoba suburb. I worked at Zimbabwe Alloys as a fitter and turner for eleven years on a part time basis,” said Mkoki. I started my art gallery in 1993 and received two awards in 1995.
In addition, Mr. Mkoki worked as the co-coordinator of the 2007 Land Mark exhibition that was conducted at Gweru Military Museum. Coaster said that he started sculptor long back as a child.”I was born an artist and worked with Tapfuma Kiuts, a, my mentor who is now based in Austria,” he said.
As a brilliant sculptor who has exhibited beyond borders, Mkoki understands sculpture as creation and touch of things which can be admired. Mkoki told Caven masuku that he is inspired by God, who is the best creator ever to be witnessed.
“I am imitating what God has created through moulding works of art that can be emulated by society. The community benefits a lot from sculptures and Land Mark exhibition was supposed to be my soul exhibition. It creates life and helps the community by engaging them”
As a sculptor, Mkoki said they lacked financial backing and he had to use his money to facilitate the Land Mark exhibition.
Mkoki suggested that the school curriculum needs to be revisited, and artistic genre like drama and music does put more money as compared to sculpture. Art sculptor like Dominic Benhura who were mentored by Tapfuma Kiutsa, are highly contributors of the economic turnaround
Sculpture contributes immensely to our culture. It enables the use of hands as an icon or metaphor. Moses in the Bible used sculpture to build turbanacles. The Zimbabwe ruins, Egyptians Pyramids and Matopos are the work of sculptures. Mkoki perceives sculptor as a ruler that can elevate creativity, Inca in America, stone Hange in the United Kingdom. Cave paintings and sculptures are works that communicate effectively to the society. Behind every sculpture there is God who gave us the knowledge to imitate his works. National Arts Council of Zimbabwe (NACZ) provides the sculptor in Gweru with moral support.
The sculpture industry kindly request the government to assist as they contribute immensely to the economic turnaround of the country. Mkoki said that it is disheartening that Gweru Civic centre has no sculpture artifacts as compared to Bulawayo and Harare. Sculpture has no boundaries; instead a sculptor has freedom to speak out his mind.
Mkoki said that they is a lot that needs to be done to promote arts and sculpture in Gweru. The Midlands province needs more shows and the corporate world to host art galleries.