The Shona art movement has been heralded as the most important art movement to come out of Sub-Saharan Africa in the second half of the Twentieth Century. It re-emerged in the early nineteen sixties when Frank McEwen, the English director of the new National Gallery in the capital, Harare (then Salisbury) discovered the work of Joram Mariga and the intuitive and untutored talent that lay within the Shona peoples.

The Shona, who make up about 80% of Zimbabwe’s population have an historic relationship with stone that is unique in Sub-Saharan Africa. In fact, the only major stone ruin from antiquity is in Zimbabwe; the word itself means “Big Houses Made Of Stone” in the Shona language.

“Old Zimbabwe” was built between 1250 and 1450 AD and composes the Great Enclosure, which is over 800 feet in circumference and 15 feet wide, and the Hill Complex of walled enclosures.

Eight carved soapstone birds were found at Old Zimbabwe, showing that the Shona have had a relationship with stone for centuries.