Image: Anthony Bumhira, Dhoyilisi Generation (2018). Detail. Photo courtesy of Zeitz MOCCA.
The Zimbabwean artist Anthony Bumhira, known for producing semi-abstract, large-scale art, died earlier this year. Here we publish an extract from Textile: the journal of cloth & culture, a transcript of a panel discussion between Anthony, Jessica Hemmings, Hayden Proud and Erica de Greef, dedicated to Anthony. The discussion took place at the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa, Cape Town, in 2018 and considered textiles in painting; the practical necessities of textile – and more broadly craft – materials used in Zimbabwean visual culture today and during the country’s sanctions era.
Image: Anthony Bumhira, Houses For All (2018), detail. Photo courtesy of Zeitz MOCCA.
Anthony Bumhira: Textile always fascinates me. My mother used to sell her doilies here in South Africa for our upkeep, so doilies are personal to me and I see that to use textile is very easy to communicate because everyone can relate to it. If you see my blankets in textile, I chose those materials so it would be very easy to communicate and for my audience to take part in my work, to relate to my work.
Erica de Greef: […] I wonder Anthony, if you could speak to us a bit about the component parts, the many small beings in these works. How did these works start and how did these small beings speak to you?
Image: Anthony Bumhira, Houses For All (2018). Photo courtesy of Zeitz MOCCA.
Anthony Bumhira: Firstly, I was tired of painting. I was very tired and I decided, instead of painting people, to make them. As you can see, those tiny people, [there are] a lot of them. I decided that I have to make them and put them on a blanket, sending a message. The title of this work is Houses For All (2018). Because of the textile, people now want to know what is happening: Where are the houses? Promises promised, not fulfilled. That was the message and I find it very easy to use textile to make the small dolls and a little bit of paint, since I’m not much in love with paint now. I can make this art sitting in my lounge, not messing up my sofas. That’s why I favour textile.
As you can see, I use blankets instead of canvas, so that everyone can relate to that piece of art. I think that even in Asia and Europe, everyone knows a blanket and it’s easy to draw [in] everyone’s attention. It is not easy to make because if you want to make those small dolls, it takes a lot of time. I think I spent nearly three months making my first work, but now with the experience it is easy to make these dolls and to gather the textiles. I visit tailors’ workshops and collect off-cuts. The doilies, I already have them at home. I use those that I can take off the sofas and make my art. I am happy that people respond, it is really great and the message is a little political. The situation where I come from, everyone has to be involved in politics. So, to make people listen to me, I have to use textile so that everyone can want to understand what is happening and that is when I will tell you my story.
To read the full article visit, Textile: the journal of cloth & culture.