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National Gallery hosts schools art exhibition

The National Gallery of Zimbabwe in conjunction with the Environmental Management Agency (EMA) is hosting the Tavatose/Sisonke 2015 schools art exhibition on vanishing wetlands.

by National Gallery of Zimbabwe

The exhibition which is running under the theme Going, going, gone: Vanishing wetlands started yesterday and will end on July 27 at the National Gallery of Zimbabwe.

Tavatose/Sisonke aims at promoting artistic talent at a young age, while focusing on specific areas of concern for the nation as well as to develop a greater awareness of the importance of preserving wetlands. The exhibition is being held with the hope of developing awareness at an early age. It also explores issues around availability or non-availability of water and how it affects people.

Wetlands are areas where water covers the soil or is present either at or near the surface for varying periods of time during the year, including during the growing season.

“The focus of this year’s exhibition is to develop in youths, microscopic views of wetlands, what is living there, insects, birds, plants, wild life and fish as well as the importance of sustainably preserving the ecosystem,” said Akim Nyakudya, education officer of the National Gallery of Zimbabwe.

“This platform is for youths to showcase their creativity in a way that contributes to a better society. We are also planning to provide a platform from which our institution can assess areas where art teachers need assistance in terms of art education.”

This exhibition is an open call to all students from pre-school to senior school to submit their artworks in relation to the theme. Teachers are encouraged to explain some ideas such as locating actual wetlands, investigating what is happening on those lands at this time, for example human settlements in the form of houses, schools and churches.

The Environment Management Act says, “Wetlands are areas of marsh, fen, peatland or water, whether natural or artificial, permanent or temporary, with water that is static or flowing, fresh, brackish or salt, including riparian land adjacent to the wetland.”

EMA Environmental Education and Publicity Manager, Steady Kangata said: “Environmental Management Agency has recognised the importance of stakeholder participation as a way of promoting and fostering environmental stewardship and management. Therefore, the focus of this exhibition acts as an avenue to cascade environmental information to the wider society of Zimbabwe.”

“Activities resulting in wetlands loss and degradation include: agriculture; commercial and residential development; road construction; impoundment; resource extraction; industrial siting, processes, and waste; dredge disposal; care and cultivation of forest trees (silviculture) and mosquito control through drainage, channelisation and use of toxic pesticides. In Zimbabwe, commercial and housing construction projects are threatening wetlands,” Kangata said.

“Many home owners seem unaware of the dangers of building in wetlands. Constructing in such areas comes with a lot of risks. The soil is not the best to build because its structure is weak and mostly made of clay. Building on wetlands, directly tampers with the natural flow of the environment by blocking water passage which is naturally instituted by the free flow of water. It directly tampers with natural water collection and leads to flooding. It can also expose you to water-borne disease such as cholera and typhoid, worse still the building can collapse.”

He advised people to seek advice from EMA before going ahead with developing any structure on wetlands and get a written approval. It is a legal requirement to apply for wetland utilisation from EMA offices in provinces or districts.

The partnership between the National Gallery of Zimbabwe and EMA brings a new dimension in schools visual arts exhibition funding matrix, enabling many schoolchildren from across Zimbabwe’s 10 provinces to lend their voices in the discourse of sustainable society through visual narratives at the same time improving their artistic skills.

“We are excited by this development and are already thinking ahead, focusing on continued synergies over initially, the next five years with Environmental Management Agency and continued partnerships beyond,” said Nyakudya.

“For 2016, our focus will be on waste management and we hope other corporate bodies, embassies, local authorities, churches and private individuals will come on board to support this worthy cause.”

The deadline for submission of artworks to provinces was June 15 2015 and all artworks were supposed to be at the National Gallery in Harare for national adjudication by June 19 2015.

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