Last month, our Gallery’s founder Edwin Wulfsohn took a trip to Africa with his two sons Harry and Jason to explore his family’s history, discover emerging artists and scout for new artwork for the Mosi-O-Tunya Gallery.
Edwin grew up in Zambia and his family has had a strong connection with the country since his father, aged 17, settled there in 1929. Arriving with just £10 in his pocket and unable to speak English, Edwin’s father, the late Harry Wulfsohn, spent his next decades building companies with his business partner Harry Susman and together they played an important role in the growth of the Northern Rhodesian economy. Edwin’s family left Zambia and went to Harare, Zimbabwe.
Since childhood, Edwin has held a lifelong love for the cultures, people and art from the region and he founded the Mosi-O-Tunya Gallery in recent years as a way to exhibit, champion and benefit artists from across Africa.
Meeting the President of Zambia
The first stop on Edwin’s trip was the capital of Lusaka where he and his sons met with The President of Zambia Hakainde Hichilema at State House. Edwin and the President were both born in the Southern region of Zambia with many of the President’s farms bordering those of the Wulfsohn family.
Visiting galleries in Lusaka
While in Lusaka, Edwin also visited a local gallery to meet some of the artists it represents and see some of the works on display.
The first gallery he visited was formed in 1986 to provide scholarships to promising artists; support art education and support organisations working for the promotion of Zambia’s visual arts.
Several of the works in the Mosi-O-Tunya permanent collection are by artists that have received support from the gallery including William Miko, who obtained a Fine Art and a Masters degree from Middlesex University in London, with its sponsorship.
We also have pieces in the collection by Godfrey Setti and Henry Tayali, both of whom were affiliated with the gallery during their lifetimes and Edwin enjoyed meeting some of the artists they are supporting today.
Hearing the roar of the Victoria Falls
Next, Edwin travelled to Livingstone to see the Victoria Falls, known by tribesmen as ‘Mosi-O-Tunya’, our Gallery’s namesake. Mosi-O-Tunya means “the smoke that thunders”, named so for the roar of noise and clouds of mist created by the magnificent falls.
The Victoria Falls marks the boundary between Zambia and Zimbabwe, and it is on this boundary where Edwin grew up.
This boundary is also where most of the Mosi-O-Tunya Gallery’s permanent collection originates from, collected by Edwin over many years of visiting the region and discovering emerging talents.
A Livingstone Art Studio
While in Livingstone, Edwin also visited a local art studio and gallery where he met the Gallery’s passionate founders. The art studio offers residency and apprenticeship opportunities for emerging and established artists with a particular emphasis on women and youth empowerment programmes.
National Art Gallery of Zambia
On his final stop in Livingstone, Edwin visited the National Art Gallery of Zambia where he was struck by a colourful piece by an artist who, once homeless, now produces beautiful art like this (see below). There were also many incredibly detailed pencil drawings on display, produced by self-taught artists with impressive talent.
A shanty town in Harare
Upon leaving Livingstone, Edwin and his sons travelled to Harare, the capital of Zimbabwe, and walked through the shanty town of Mbare where they saw lots of interesting and colourful art created by young Zimbabwean artists.
The Mosi-O-Tunya Gallery has a rich appreciation for Zimbabwean art and its history with many of the pieces in the Gallery’s collection by Zimbabwean artists active in the 80s, 90s and early 2000s including George Churu, Richard Witikani, Mischek Gudo and Ishmael Wilfred.
National Gallery of Zimbabwe
Visiting the National Gallery of Zimbabwe, Edwin was shown works by several exciting young artists making waves in the African art scene.
Many of the pieces in the Mosi-O-Tunya Gallery’s collection are by artists who studied at the National Gallery of Zimbabwe’s BAT Workshop Studios in the 80s and 90s including George Churu, Ishmael Wilfred and Luis Meque.
We also have works by Thomas Mukarobgwa, Tackson Muvezwa, Mischek Gudo, Hilary Kashiri, and Never Kayowa who have all exhibited in or have works in the permanent collection of the National Gallery.
As a keen collector of Zimbabwean art, Edwin was very interested to see the work currently being shown in the Gallery and hear about Zimbabwe’s emerging artists from the Gallery’s passionate Director.
An art commune in Harare
Before leaving Harare, Edwin visited an art commune. The commune offers artist residencies, workshops, internships, art lessons, exhibitions and fantastic opportunities to emerging artists to develop their talent and present their art. An outstanding project.
Final stop, another commune in Johannesburg
Edwin’s final stop on the trip was another commune, this time in Johannesburg where more than 40 independent emerging artists live and create. Outside, the building looks like a rather uninspiring 1940s block but once inside high columns and large open plan floors show off five storeys of creative and colourful art.
Returning to London
Edwin returned to London with a great sense of satisfaction at having seen a number of excellent programmes designed to help emerging artists to develop and share their talents.
Sourced on Edwin’s trip, we currently have three new pieces for sale on the Mosi-O-Tunya website. Visit our website to see the works by Mulenga Chafilwa and Antionette McMaster. You can also read their biographies.
Please don’t hesitate to get in touch with the Gallery if you’re interested in purchasing any of these pieces, or indeed any of the other pieces we currently have available to buy. Proceeds from sales are used to support emerging African artists.