Home » Arts & Culture » Benhura Catches ‘Em Young

Twelve-year-old Theodore Reieter holds her chisel with her left hand and a hammer on the right hand as she carves a leaf. “Phew, it’s fun but a bit hard,” she says as she wipes the sweat from her eyebrows.

She is a big fan of plants and while on holiday, the Harare International School pupil takes time to learn how to sculpt at the Dominic Studio located in Greendale owned by renowned stone sculptor Dominic Benhura.

Theo, as she is called, is part of the recent group that is attached to the Dominic Studio as part of the “Catch Them Young” programme where Benhura imparts his knowledge to enthusiastic children.

By the way it is no coincidence that most of the children are aged 12 because Benhura himself who is now 47 years old started out a career in sculpting at the tender age of 12 in Murehwa.

There he was under the tutelage of his uncle Tapfuma Gutsa and by the time he completed his O-Levels he was already producing and selling pieces of sculpture.

Theo is not the only one at the studio who is trying out a hand at stone carving but also her sister Cassandra Reiter who enjoys sculpting fish.

The two Americans were accompanied by their father, Brian Reiter, who is a friend of Benhura’s.

“The kids are on holiday and we thought why don’t we spend time here at the studio and learn a bit of sculpting. I now appreciate how much work goes into the stone and it is not as easy as it looks. It also takes a great deal of skill,” Reiter said.

However, the group is one of the several that have passed through the mentorship programme at Dominic Studio. Besides the youngsters, there are university students, art researchers, gallerists as well as professional sculptors who visit the studio for refresher courses or to share ideas.

“This is a creative space for sculptors where we provide everything from the tools, stones and the knowledge.

“We have had a number of university students who come for attachment and pass with flying colours once they finish their internship.

We are hoping that in the near future we should be able to be fully registered with the Ministry of Education so that we are able to issue certificates of competence to our students,” Benhura said.

A former UNWTO ambassador, Benhura said it was easy to teach children how to sculpt because he started out as a child.

“I get my inspiration from children and they display a lot of creativity. We have worked with a number of sculptors who excel once they leave the studio. From time to time I get visitors from overseas or even Government officials who come to see what we are doing.

“In short, the studio has become a tourist attraction. I had the pleasure of working with Dr Amai Grace Mugabe to mention just one,” Benhura said.

True to his word the Dominic Studio has been featured on CNN, BBC and SABC news channels where it received rave reviews. Through its great sculptures, the Dominic Studio continues to put Zimbabwe on the international art map.

Source : The Herald

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