08 November, 2013

Invitation to participate in the 2013 Exhibition of Arts and Crafts of the Southern Province of Zambia


Choma, November 8th, 2013.


It’s time to get ready to participate in the 2013 edition of the Choma Museum Exhibition of Arts and Crafts of the Southern Province.

Like last year the exhibition shall be organised by myself (Zamfactor Ltd) and the Choma Museum Art Gallery. Contact person at the Choma Museum is Peggy Himoondo, phone 0977-661 411.

Items on display should be made in the Southern Province of Zambia or by artists and artisans hailing from that province and be works of art, applied art or quality crafts.

Photo of 2012 Arts & Crafts exhibition
Participants shall be promoted on the Choma Museum Art Gallery website, the Zamfactor Ltd. website and facebook.

The Choma Museum commission is 25% of sales value, the mark-up on the artist’s or artisan’s price therefore is 33.3% or 1/3.

Works for sale should be submitted as of 15 November up to 24 November, exhibition to open tentatively 30 November 2013 and to run until end of January 2014.

Please confirm participation/interest by return mail with CC to chomamuseum@gmail.com

Cheerz &  “MAKE ART WORK.”

Bert Witkamp
Zamfactor Ltd.
phone land line++260 +213 220 364
phone mobile   ++260 +955 533 644



No virus found in this message.
Checked by AVG - www.avg.com
Version: 2014.0.4158 / Virus Database: 3629/6818 - Release Date: 11/07/13

20 September, 2013

The Choma Museum Art Gallery Electronic Newsletter no 5


 20 September 2013
Editor: Bert Witkamp

1          COMMUNICATION AND INFORMATION
The Choma Museum e-mail address is: chomamuseum@gmail.com. Mail to that address will be read by Mwimanji N. Chellah, executive director of the CMCC. Peggy Himoonde is in charge of the Art Gallery. For information about the ongoing CM Art Gallery exhibition you may also contact Bert Witkamp at zamfactor@gmail.com. The Choma Museum Art Gallery website is: chomamuseumartgallery.weebly.com. It is small but keeps you updated about what is happening in the gallery. The site gets visited about 10 to 15 times daily – more than the average physical visits of the gallery. This newsletter is also published on the ZamArt Blog and the art gallery website.

2.         CURRENT EXHIBITION: GRAPHIC ART OF ZAMBIA

The Minister of Chiefs and Traditional Affairs and 
CMCC ED admiring a silkscreen print by Lutanda 
depicting a traditional event.
This is the third exhibition of the Choma Museum Art gallery this year. The official opening took place on August 21st 2013 and was performed by Professor Nkandu Luo, Minister of Chiefs and Traditional Affairs. She was accompanied by her two deputy ministers – indeed it has been some time since the CMCC has been visited by three ministers for a single event.    Professor Nkandu Luo in her well informed opening speech expressed appreciation for the manner in which the museum had been setup and was clearly genuinely interested in the institution and its exhibitions. Exhibition organisor Bert Witkamp explained how the exhibition was structured stressing the pioneers of artistic printmaking in Zambia. CMCC Executive Director Mwimanji N. Chellah guided the Ministers, their entourage and invited guests through the CMCC premises, building and exhibitions.
After the Shot. Lino cut
by Patrick Mweemba.
The event was well covered by ZANIS and Andrew Mulenga writing for The Post. Andrew’s article is in the Saturday Post of August 24 2013 and can also be read and seen on his blog named Andrew’s Hole in the Wall by clicking on the link below:
Roy Kausa, art writer and Board member of the Lechwe Trust, also covered the event (on 11.09.13) and had photographs posted on the CNN i-report website.

Bert Witkamp has designed a leaflet providing information about Zambian printmakers and a brief outline of graphic art in Zambia. This information can also be accessed on the Choma Museum Art Gallery website (click on the current exhibition tab), the ZamArt Blog and the Zfactor Art Site (click on IT publications).

This exhibition, in a sense a sequel to the 1996 graphic art of Zambia exhibition by the same institution, may very well be the most comprehensive Zambian graphic art exhibition ever. Almost all major graphic artists are represented. On sale are both recent and older prints. The older prints, made in the seventies and eighties, include increasingly rare prints by Tayali, Cynthia Zukas, Lutanda Mwamba and members of the Lusaka Artists Group. The display runs till end of October.

3         PREVIOUS: WOMEN IN ART – art by or about women
The exhibition opened March 2nd and closed about August 10th 2013. It attracted about 1,000 recorded visitors. Sales amounted to K 10,000.  

4          MEMORY LANE
BaSyabbalo
Today (20.09.13) Mr Enock Syabbalo came to see the museum. He is one of the pioneers of what now is the CMCC. In the early eighties he was working for the Gossner Mission in the Gwembe Valley where he was in charge of the crafts activities of the mission. This activity was adopted by the Netherlands government in 1988 as a development project and developed to what today is the Choma Museum and Crafts Centre Trust Ltd. In 1987, now 25 years ago, it was the Society for the Gwembe Tonga Museum and Crafts Project. BaSyabbalo was its first employee. He is, needless to say, an expert of Gwembe Tonga culture.


5          FUTURE ACTIVITIES
Roy Kausa suggested that this exhibition should move on to the Lusaka National Museum to be combined with a graphic art workshop for secondary school pupils. Sounds like a good idea. The CM Art Gallery as yet has not developed a plan for its next exhibition.

Note: You are welcome to notify art events for posting on the Choma Museum Art Gallery website or ZamArt Blog by using the any of e-mail addresses above.

28 August, 2013

FW: KUNDWE - Art Talks at The Lusaka National Museum



From: Emilia Alvarez Nordstr├Âm [mailto:emiliaalvarez86@gmail.com]
Sent: 27 August 2013 18:56
To: zamfactor@gmail.com
Subject: KUNDWE - Art Talks at The Lusaka National Museum


Kundwe                          
Art Talks at Lusaka National Museum     
<![if !vml]><![endif]>
Get to know the Arts and Culture scene in Lusaka!

Join us for a series of Art Talks presented by Lusaka's creative professionals at the Lusaka National Museum. 
Starting on September 11th until October 16th
See our Program below. 

Art Talk Program, September 2013:

Wednesday, September 11th 2013, 17:30 – 18:30 hrs  
The StART Foundation and 37d Art Gallery                    
Mika Marffy - Art curator at the stART Foundation. Education Hall, Lusaka National Museum.
Combining creative charity work and commercial art sale, the StART Foundation encourage creativity in children and support Zambian artists. Curator Mika Marffy speaks about their work and their prestigious art gallery 37d.
Entrance fee: 5 zmw

Wednesday, September 18th 2013, 17:30 – 18:30 hrs
The Art App Project
Artist Lawrence Chikwa, Daryl Lukas and Francis Lombe from BongoHive Technology and Innovation Hub. Education Hall, Lusaka National Museum.
Lawrence Chikwa and BongoHive's Daryl Lukas and Francis Lombe speak about their project – merging Art and Technology to create a new platform to make it possible to explore – and buy – Zambian art through your mobile phone.
Entrance fee: 5 zmw

Wednesday, September 25th 2013, 17:30 – 18:30 hrs
Art in Zambia - The Present and The Future
Andrew Mulenga – Award winning journalist and art critic for the Post Newspaper. Education Hall, Lusaka National Museum.
Andrew Mulenga speaks about art journalism, criticism, and the art scene in Zambia – where it is today and where it is headed.
Entrance fee: 5 zmw



No virus found in this message.
Checked by AVG - www.avg.com
Version: 2013.0.3392 / Virus Database: 3211/6612 - Release Date: 08/27/13


No virus found in this message.
Checked by AVG - www.avg.com
Version: 2013.0.3392 / Virus Database: 3211/6612 - Release Date: 08/27/13

26 August, 2013

KEEPING ART: the Care of Prints, Drawings & Watercolours

By Bert Witkamp
Zamfactor Ltd. Technical art information sheet no. 1

version: 2 September 2013

Art work generally is fragile and will get damaged if not properly cared for. Below some guidelines for portable two-dimensional art work such as drawings, prints or watercolours. In this text we first consider framed art behind glass on display and then framed and unframed art in storage.


1.       Purchased framed art behind glass

The purpose of framing and mounting is twofold: to adequately present and protect the work of art inside of it. You need to consider three factors in preserving the art object well:
          The material quality of the art work,
          The manner in which it has been mounted and framed, and,
          The location where the object is to be.

1.1     The material construction of the art work
Photo 1. Fading in top print due to
inferior pigments and exposure to light.

Both prints are equally old.
Art work, in the classical western tradition, is made of a specific range of materials, applied by specified procedure. One key factor in the selection of these materials is permanency – art materials if well applied are to result in a “permanent” work of art. Practically other factors also come into play such as availability, costs and technical knowledge of the artist. Many modern artists have insufficient knowledge of art materials, an issue which particularly affects the choice and application of colours. The concept of “permanency” does not feature in the ideology of many modern artists, notably as of WW II. The work of those artists is not made to last, sometimes deliberately so. The issue of material soundness, however, is a concern for buyers and collectors, especially as art usually does not come cheap or is purchased in order to be preserved. Laymen rarely have the knowledge or means to assess the material soundness of a work of art. But you may be able to see whether proper paper has been used as the support for your print, drawing, water colour or gouache. Proper art paper does not or hardly yellow.
The permanency of colours often is hard to establish by sight alone – when it comes to inks and pigments you depend on the artist’s consciousness and knowledge. Charcoal, black pencil and Indian ink don’t fade, but the ink of felt pen and markers do loose their original colour. The moral of this story is to carefully observe the recommendations in section 1.3 concerning the location of art you have already bought and to do some investigation on the material soundness of art you consider to buy in the future, in particular when such an object has a hefty price tag attached to it or needs preservation from a collector’s point of view.


1.2     Mount and frame
Photo 2. Protective
glued strip torn by
contraction.
Mounting board for art work is especially made board and should not be substituted by cheap ordinary board or carton. Art mounting board should be acid free and not or hardly discolour over time. The board, if tinted, should be tinted by the use of inks or solids that are fast to light; that is, do not easily fade. One purpose of the mounting board is to protect the art work from contact with the glass. If the picture has been mounted in a wobbly manner, or is wobbly by itself, this purpose might not be achieved and remounting is to be considered. The art work should be attached to the mounting board by a few drops of gum Arabic (water based glue) or by a strips of water based glue  connecting mount and art work. Do not use or accept sellotape or the like as the adhesives of such materials in time migrate into the absorbent surfaces onto which they have been applied. The protective sheet of paper should be placed behind the mounted picture. The sheet should be of acid free paper, such as good plain art paper. Behind this protective sheet is the backing of the frame. A suitable backing material is  masonite (see photo 3). 

Photo 3. The gap between frame
and backing allows dust, dirt &
bugs is in, see photo 4.
Photo 4. Dirt in frame as frame was
not sealed. Picture is mounted
 on paper rather than board.
Masonite is compressed exploded wood. It has a smooth side and a rough side that has the imprinted mesh which is part of the pressing process. The rough side should be the outside. For small pictures a good cardboard also will do. Unsuitable backings are made of cheap cardboard such as the kind of which boxes are made. Cheap yes, suitable no. The backing is tacked against the frame. The border area of the backing and the adjacent frame should be covered by a glued strip of paper – the glue usually is fish glue – and such sealing serves to keep dust and bugs out (see photo 2). It is a good thing to do, but don’t use cello tape or similar adhesive strips. Glass, 2 or 3 mm thick and preferably non-reflexive, is in front of the mounted picture and held in place by the frame. Dust it from time to time, clean it with a damp cloth and Frames usually do not require much attention save for the occasional dusting; but wooden frames that are oiled need to receive their periodic oil treatment. That is about twice a year. If you do not know what oil to use, or are limited in your choices, just use baby oil. The main thing about furniture wood oils is that they should be non-drying oils. If you are tired of the repeating oiling business just use boiled linseed oil. That’ll suffice for a long time. Boiled linseed oil does “dry.”

1.3     Location when displayed
Your art work either is in storage or on display. We’ll first look at the on display situation. Most important about the place of display when it comes to preservation are the don’ts.

Thy shall not:
Expose your picture to direct sunlight.
Hang your picture close to a source of heat.
Hang your picture where there are strong drafts.
Hang your picture against a damp wall or in an excessively damp environment.

1). Sunlight shall cause your picture to fade when inferior pigments or inks are used and may eventually also cause durable pigments or inks to fade or change colour. This point is dramatically demonstrated in photograph no 1. Fading is accelerated by the use of poor colouring agents, as in this case. Exposure to sunlight may also cause other problems by the differential absorption of warmth by light and dark area’s with white areas staying cool and dark area’s warming up. Such temperature variations cause differences in expansion or contraction across and within the picture, and results in local variation of in humidity as well. These factors contribute to the gradual destruction of your work of art.
2). Art work should not be placed close to illuminating light bulbs as these shall warm up the object. The art work should have normal room temperature and generally abrupt changes in temperature should be avoided. Art work should not be hung in a spot with excessively varying temperatures, such as close to a fire place or other source of heat.
3). Drafts bring about changes in temperature and/or humidity and transport dust that may settle on or in your picture. Not good.
4). A humid wall or prolonged exposure to excessively humid air shall transfer humidity onto and into your frame and picture. Humidity shall cause fungi to thrive on your art work. In that event you need to open the frame, take out the picture to dry up and free it of dust by the use of a soft brush. It is best to consult an expert if the picture is valuable. The mount, protective sheet and backing must be replaced if affected. The frame must be thoroughly cleaned and dried. Humidity also promotes undesirable mechanical and chemical action and reaction.


2        Art in Storage

Art in storage is either framed or not framed.

2.1     Stored art in frame with glass
These objects best are kept in a vertical position to reduce the chance of breaking the glass. The main requirement is to store the work in a reasonably dry place. In tropical area’s one must be mindful of termites. Inspect periodically – once or twice a year.

2.2     Unframed stored art
Sleeve of portfolio. The brownish
spots are caused by fungi.
Art purchased as a print, drawing, watercolour or gouache usually is kept in a portfolio; with protective sheets of good paper between them. It is better if the works are mounted as this leaves the surface free of contact with other materials. Collectors may store in special drawers. The main dangers are excessive humidity and sometimes insects. Periodic inspection is necessary – you’ll be surprised how easily dust and bugs find their way into you art collection!



21 August, 2013

FW: Invitation Opening Exhibition "GRAPHIC ART OF ZAMBIA."

Mr Chellah, Director of the Choma Museum & Crafts Centre Trust Ltd, was informed late last night that the Minister of MoCTA would be available and willing to officially open the Graphic Art of Zambia tomorrow, August 21st 2013. That is short notice. We are happy 1) that the Minister has found time for this function in her busy schedule, 2) that the formal opening does take place before the UNTWO conference, and 3) we can inform you electronically. It therefore is my pleasure to send this invitation to you on behalf of Mr Chellah who today is in Livingstone where the Choma Museum and Crafts Centre participates in the promotion of handi-crafts.

Bert Witkamp

You can access information about the exhibition on the Art Gallery website at http://chomamuseumartgallery.weebly.com by clicking on this link and thereafter on the current exhibition tab of the web site.

From: Gijsbert Witkamp [mailto:zamfactor@gmail.com]
Sent: 20 August 2013 10:44
To: zamfactor@gmail.com
Subject: Invitation Opening Exhibition "GRAPHIC ART OF ZAMBIA."


17 August, 2013

THE 2013 GRAPHIC ART EXHIBITION OF THE CHOMA MUSEUM

Text and internet publication: Bert Witkamp.
Posted: date 17 August 2013
Last update: 15 July 2015

Art in Zambia series no 5: The Graphic Art Exhibition of the Choma Museum.

In this text by Bert Witkamp some notes on the genesis of artistic printmaking at the occasion of the August – October 2013 “Graphic Art of Zambia” exhibition at the Art Gallery of the Choma Museum. The exhibition is a joint production of Zamfactor Ltd. and the Choma Museum. The text is based on the notes in the leaflet accompanying the exhibition; now illustrated in this post.

You can see artists and work on show at the Choma Museum Art Gallery Web site: http://chomamuseumartgallery.weebly.com by clicking on the current exhibition tab. An expanded version of this text is at the zamfactor website http://www.zfactorart.com/graphic-art-of-zambia.html

 ***

There are several types of graphic artists: printmakers, draughtsman, commercial designers, book illustrators and others involved in industrial printing. These notes are confined to graphic art as fine, hand printed art. The development of hand printed art is the main focus of this exhibition, supplemented by graphic work which is not printed but drawn.

          Zambia’s history of printed art is young and starts just before Independence with the arrival of Cynthia Zukas in what at that time still was Northern Rhodesia. Born in the Republic of South Africa she obtained a BA in the Fine Arts at the University of Cape Town. At this exhibition you see five of her prints. She developed a naturalistic style, choosing subjects and themes out of her surroundings.

"We want clean water," Etching by Cynthia Zukas.

Mrs Zukas has been supporting the arts in Zambia in many capacities: privately, as a member of the Art Centre Foundation, co-director of Mpapa Art Gallery, Chairlady of the Lechwe Trust and in many more functions. She made her etching press available to graphic artists - we’ll come back to that when discussing the Lusaka Artists Group. In this exhibition we stress her pioneering contribution to printmaking in Zambia.

          The second major formative influence was by Henry Tayali (1943 - 1987). He was a painter, graphic artist and sculptor. Tayali was one of the small number of indigenous Zambians privileged to academic education in the arts upon Zambian Independence in 1964; of these he enrolled at the best schools and was one of the very few who passionately continued to be productive in art after his academic studies. He obtained in 1975 a master’s degree in fine art at the well known D┼▒sseldorf Art Academy, the school where he learned most of  his graphics. Tayali mostly made woodcuts, but also worked in lino and did several designs in silk screen. Much of his work is in a robust, expressive style in which the dominant figures clearly stand out against a sketchy back ground made up of patterns of gouged out lines that support the sense and feeling of the subject.

Woodcut by Tayali with dancing figures.

He also experimented with a more abstract manner of graphic image formation. In such work figurative elements are not more than clues in an all over visual scene made up of colour blots and linear structures that seek to be expressive of emotion rather than of observable reality. This near-abstract work is mostly done in silkscreen.

          The third party shaping Zambia’s advent into graphics are the members of the Lusaka Artist Group (as of 1977 renamed Zambia Artists Group or ZAG). The group was brought together by Bert Witkamp, also writer of this article, during 1975 and 1976. Bert had arrived in Zambia in 1975 from the Netherlands, had a background in painting, monumental design and graphic art, and was looking for fellow artists to work with. The first of these was Fakson Kulya, followed by Patrick Mweemba and David Chibwe. The group was assisted in 1976 by the Art Centre Foundation which facilitated a classroom/studio at the Evelyn Hone College in Lusaka. Cynthia Zukas made her etching press available and the result was a very substantial production of graphic art, mostly lino cuts. Lino cutting was new to these artists and it took some time before each developed his own style in a consistent manner. Kulya’s work often is of a narrative nature, drawing its inspiration out of folk culture in at times bizarre or humorous figurative imagery.

"Sitting on a bad Branch." Lino cut by Fakson Kulya.

Chibwe’s graphic work mostly is about daily life in the village or urban compound.

"Children at the Front Yard." Lino cut by David Chibwe.

Also Mweemba’s prints often present images of daily life of so-called common folk.

"After the Shot." Lino cut by Patrick Mweemba. 

Mweemba developed his own variety of colour printing. Witkamp’s work during 1975-1985 mostly is an attempt to combine Western and African figurative elements into his imagery.

"Plus Minus." Lino cut by Bert Witkamp

          The collapse of the Zambia Artists Group in 1981 and the subsequent closure of the studio at the Evelyn Hone College did not spell the end of a prolific Zambian graphic art production. The (former) ZAG members continued to make prints,  so did Tayali, Zukas and Macromalis. New artists entered the graphic scene. Lutanda Mwamba from the very beginning was a great lino cut artist and soon moved on to become Zambia’s outstanding silk screen designer and printer.

"Nachisungu." Silkscreen by Lutanda.

He works in colour. A good number of his designs show a great sense of composition, spatial arrangement and atmosphere.  Other artists followed. Jonathan Leya is a talented graphic designer, who, however, mostly does commercial work.

Combs in lino cut by Jonathan Leya.
Agnes Buya Yombwe developed an attractive, personal and original personal style.



"A Working Woman." Lino cut by Agnes Buya

Patrick Mumba, Adam Mwansa and Clement Mfuzi also are mature graphic artists that have developed a style of their own.

"Gender." Silkscreen print by Patrick Mumbwa.

And there are others and more to come. Graphic art now is well established in the spectre of Zambian visual arts as you can see at this exhibition.

28 July, 2013

Choma Museum Art Gallery Newsletter no 4

The Choma Museum Art Gallery Electronic Newsletter no 4
28 July 2013
 Edited by Bert Witkamp


1          COMMUNICATION AND INFORMATION
The Choma Museum e-mail address is: chomamuseum@gmail.com. Mail to that address will be read by Mwimanji N. Chellah, executive director of the CMCC. Peggy Himoonde, public relations officer, is in charge of the Art Gallery. For information about the forthcoming CM Art Gallery exhibition you may also contact Bert Witkamp at zamfactor@gmail.com. The Choma Museum Art Gallery website is: chomamuseumartgallery.weebly.com. The site is small but keeps you updated about what is happening in the gallery. It gets visited about 5-10 times daily – pretty much the same as the average physical visits of the gallery. This newsletter is also published on the art gallery website.

2.         HOW COME THE GRAPHIC ART OF ZAMBIA EXHIBITION IS NOT YET ON?
One outcome of the impromptu elevation of Choma to provincial capital of Southern Province was a frantic search for offices of provincial departments that were threatened with severe sanctions – their chief officeholders that is – if they continued to dillydally about their forced move from the fine historical town of Livingstone to nondescript Choma 180 km up the road. One outcome of the frantic search for offices in Choma was a letter written by the neighbour of the Choma Museum telling its director to move the Choma Museum out of the building, the former Beit Boarding School for Girls dating back to 1927, and to do so within 14 days as of the date of writing of the ominous letter.
            In most countries it is unusual to demand that a museum moves out of its accommodation within a fortnight, even if the demander is the legitimate landlord - which is not the case here. It was also wrong in principle as the entire building had been renovated by the Netherlands government in the understanding that one part would serve the District Education Office and the other the museum and crafts project now named the Choma Museum and Crafts Centre Trust Ltd. You can find the historical details – we are talking 1987 to 1993 - in the relevant post of the ZamArt blog.
            Remarkably the director of the CMCC and me were in Lusaka at the time when the matter was reaching a climax. I was in Lusaka to collect art work for the Graphic Art of Zambia exhibition, both from a private collection and from artists. The CMCC director, M.N. Chellah, was in Lusaka to appear for the parliamentary committee dealing with museums. It provided him with an excellent opportunity to defend the Choma Museum position and accommodation. The friends I was staying with are long time supporters of the CMCC and they also alarmed and mobilised parties to stave off the eviction of one of the two private museums in Zambia out of the accommodation it had paid for in full.
            The matter, by the way, landed on facebook including a facebook group called BaTonga of Zambia. Some of their members were willing to take to the streets in defence of “their museum.” And indeed their museum it is, and of others as well! (In passing I note that Zambian museums should come to understand that they also are in the 21st century; and should use the means at hand of our time and age; and Internet is in the forefront of them).
            Thanks all of you for support and encouragement!
Though these matters caused a lot of excitement in an otherwise rather dull museum existence they negatively impacted on planned activities and especially the Graphic Art of Zambia exhibition. Things got delayed. Chances were slim that the Choma Museum neighbours would carry their lunch boxes to the art gallery room and throw its art works out on the streets, yet this was not really a conducive atmosphere to do all the things that need to be done to get an exhibition up and into place. Apparently the situation cooled – the how’s and what’s still are shrouded in mystery – and therefore preparations have resumed. See below at 4 for more.

3         CURRENT EXHIBITION: WOMEN IN ART – art by or about women

Nachisungu. Print by Lutanda 
The exhibition opened March 2nd and has been extended to the beginning of August for reasons stated above. The number of recorded visitors to date is about 900 – a number that should rise in the future, with better publicity and museum sign posting. Sales to date are in the order of K 9,000. Unfortunately visitors often need to insist to see the exhibition as they might find the gallery doors closed due to lack of staff attendance, a circumstance also obstructing sales. 




4          EXHIBITION “GRAPHIC ART OF ZAMBIA.”
Gossiping women. Woodcut by Tayali.
As mentioned above preparations for this major exhibition have resumed -  the opening now tentatively is scheduled for 10 August 2013, depending on availability of GoH. On display: drawings (ink or pencil) and prints of Zambian artists and artists working in Zambia. With work by: David Chibwe, Fakson Kulya, William Miko, Lutanda Mwamba, Bert Witkamp, Patrick Mweemba, Peter Gustavus, Cynthia Zukas, Agnes Buya Yombwe, Jonathan Leya, Henry Tayali, Patrick Mumba and Aquila Simpasse. Work on display is submitted by artists and private collections. The CMCC managed to secure a bit of financial support from local banks - consoling thought after recently having myteriously lost Kr at a local ATM. I am busy framing and mounting pictures and the accompanying leaflet is well under way. Rest assured the exhibition will be great, stressing the initiators and founders of printmaking in Zambia and their worthy successors.

5          MID AND LONG TERM PLAN FOR ART GALLERY
In a previous newsletter I mentioned that it is time to come up with a Practical Plan for the Choma Museum Art Gallery; a plan that has vision, is feasible, inspired and inspiring, of this time and age, puts the gallery on solid economic ground, and of course: MAKES ART WORK. In fact, there has been no reaction to this – perhaps yet another signal that it is time that also museums in Zambia should realize that they are in the 21st century and should start using the means available to them. I mean the Internet – and that does not cost money. All that is required is the desire to do so; a mindset that is up to date and updated. You can set up a website for free and the technical knowledge to do so can easily be mastered by a secondary school kid.

Note: You are welcome to notify art events for posting on the Choma Museum Art Gallery website or ZamArt Blog by using any of the e-mail addresses above.





15 June, 2013

Notes on the Accommodation of the Choma Museum

We read daily how well the Zambian economy is doing and how well the government is managing the national finances. These positives stand in shrill contrast to support and guidance given to the few museums we have in this country. We have only seven museums and these are supposed to preserve and present our national cultural heritage well and nationwide. The prevailing lack of appreciation for the cultural heritage and the role museums should play is outrageously demonstrated by the attempt to deprive the Choma Museum of the accommodation it restored at a very substantial cost. The facts are below......

The Choma Museum and its premises are among the very few  attractive public places  in Choma.

SOME NOTES ON THE CURRENT DISPUTE BETWEEN THE
PROVINCIAL EDUCATION OFFICE OF SOUTHERN PROVINCE
 AND
 THE CHOMA MUSEUM AND CRAFTS CENTRE TRUST Ltd. (CMCC)
CONCERNING THE USE OF THE FORMER BEIT BOARDING SCHOOL FOR GIRLS.

by Gijsbert Witkamp, founding Director of the CMCC (“Choma Museum”).
Choma, 4 June 2013

The issue
Recently the Choma Museum received letters from the Acting Provincial Education Officer of Southern Province saying his office is to “repossess” that part of the former Beit Boarding School for Girls that presently accommodates the Choma Museum, and during 1964 - 1988 was part of the Choma District Education Office. A similar effort made in 1993 was not successful.

The building
The building was constructed in 1927 with funds from the Beit Trust and served until Zambian Independence in 1964 as a boarding school for girls known as the Beit Boarding School for Girls. After Independence the building fell to the Ministry of Education of GRZ and became its Choma District Office. By 1987, due to lack of maintenance, the now historical building was in a seriously dilapidated state. Parts of it could not be used because of the danger of collapse, the building was heavily termite infested, the surrounding grounds were used as grazing grounds for cattle and public toilet. Its inner courtyards, during the rainy season, were mini-lakes with water rising over 2 feet high. The building, furthermore, was too large for the District’s Education Office and hence underutilised.

Origin of Agreement of Shared Occupancy
In 1987 the government of the Netherlands adopted a development project then named the Gwembe Valley Tonga Museum and Crafts Project. This project was renamed the Tonga Museum and Crafts Project (TMCP) and in 1995 became the Choma Museum and Crafts Centre Trust Ltd. (CMCC or more conveniently “Choma Museum”). The expert who in 1987 performed the project feasibility study recommended, following discussion with the Choma District Education Office and the National Monuments Commission, that the museum and crafts project be established in Choma; in the former Beit Boarding School for Girls, now serving as offices for the Choma District Board of Education. This way a historical building and part of the Zambian architectural heritage could be restored and preserved, and be better utilized. Following her recommendations discussions were held involving the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs and of Development Cooperation via its Embassy at Lusaka, the Netherlands Development Organisation SNV, the Society of the Gwembe Valley Tonga Museum and Crafts Project, the Beit Trust, the National Monuments Commission, district and provincial officials of the Ministry of Education, and other major civil servants including the Political Secretary and District Governors of the Southern Province.

The agreement to establish a museum at the Choma District Office of Education is in the Minutes of the Regional Council of Education Meeting of 29th December 1987, and was made unanimously by the Provincial Political Secretary, the assistant Permanent Secretary, the Chief Education Officer of Southern Province, and the District Governors of Namwala, Gwembe, Mazabuka, Monze and Choma. In attendance were the Deputy Chief Education Officer; District Education Officers of Gwembe, Choma, Monze and Kalomo; the Assistant District Education Officers of Mazabuka and Livingstone, and other senior education officials.

The understanding, in principle, was that:
  1. The Netherlands Government, in the framework of its Bilateral Aid Agreement with the Government of Zambia, was to restore the entire building.
  2. Such restoration was to be performed by the National Monuments Commission (now National Heritage Conservation Commission).
  3. Following the restoration the building was to be partitioned between sections for the District Education Board and what became the Choma Museum. The partitioning was approved by the Provincial Board of Education and was laid down in a map. The Northern section was to go to the Choma District Education Office, the Southern part was to accommodate the Museum and Crafts Project.

It is noteworthy that:
  1. The decision was made at provincial level with consent of the Provincial Education Officer by general administrators (i.e., the District Governors, A/Permanent Secretary and Political Secretary). Prior to that the Choma district education office had welcomed the establishment of a museum and crafts centre at its building in its meeting of 9 December 1987 that included the Country Representative of the Netherlands Development Organisation SNV.
  2. The decision to establish a museum and crafts project at the Choma District Education Office from the very beginning involved the National Monuments Commission (now the Heritage Conservation Commission) in recognition of the fact that the building belonged to the Zambian Heritage and therefore was of national interest.
  3. Museums at the time fell under the Ministry of Energy, Natural resources and Tourism. This ministry, through the National Museums Board, also became an interested party especially as of 1993 when the Tonga Museum and Crafts Project (as the project then was named) was given grant aided status. Other Ministries involved have been and/or are the Ministry of Education, Works and Supply and presently of Chiefs and Traditional Affairs; all at the highest level.
  4. The commencement of the restoration from the beginning involved international relationships between the Netherlands Government and GRZ. Later other governments substantially contributed to the improvement of this GRZ owned building; in chronological order these were the governments of Norway, the Czech Republic and the USA.

Origin and History of Conflict of Occupancy
The origin of the conflict lies at the absence of a proper contract prior to the commencement of the costly restoration works at the former Beit Boarding School for Girls at Choma. This omission painfully illustrated very different interpretations of the initial arrangements by Netherlands government officials and notably several Provincial and District Education Officers.

The Netherlands government, financier of the project, assumed that the costly restoration and the services thus provided justified the free use of the southern section of the building by the project as by initial agreement and understanding. These services and benefits were and are:
  • Providing the Choma District Education Office with decent accommodation,
  • Restoring and maintaining a GRZ building and its premises that are of historical importance,
  • Offering  the general public a cultural service (the museum),  that also contributes to the tourism industry,
  • Offering the peoples of the Southern Province in particular a cultural service by creating a museum to preserve and present their cultural heritage and by developing a crafts project enabling artisans to generate income from crafts making and market their crafts worldwide.
The District Office of Education read the arrangements quite differently. The Office was poorly funded and in dire need of money. As of 1988 a whole series of requests were made to the project. The first one involved a renegotiation concerning two rooms allocated to the project but wanted by the Choma District Education Office. The project agreed for the sake of good neighbourly relations. Subsequent requests ranged from providing stationary, building materials, continued maintenance of the District Office part of the building and fencing it, to rental charges. These requests culminated in 1993 by the then Provincial Education Officer reclaiming the entire building.

The matter became an issue of the bilateral discussion between the Netherlands and Zambian governments in 1994. Dr RMA Chongwe brought the matter to the attention of then Minister of Education, the Honourable A.S. Hambaya. The Minister in his letter dated 20 March 1995, having read the report by a committee that looked into the issue, decided that the Choma Museum be offered the entire building on the condition that it would facilitate alternative accommodation for the District Office of Education. The report concluded that the Choma District Office of Education was not capable of looking after the building, whereas the Choma Museum did look after this heritage.

The management of the Choma Museum indeed for some time pursued that course, notably by calling on the Beit Trust for assistance. This attempt, however, was not successful.

The matter remained dormant until the Acting Provincial Education Officer for Southern Province in a letter dated 4 May 2013 claimed to “repossess” the Choma Museum part of the building.

Notes to the above:

  1. My personal involvement covers the period January 1989 to November 1997. The project as of November 1997 has been managed by a Zambian Director.
  2. My stance concerning this issue is expressed in a letter dated 14 October 1992 to then Local Government Administrator Mr Matibini (now Speaker of Parliament), with copies to the relevant parties. My main point was that the District Office of Education now, after the costly restoration, should not come up with conditions which, had these been put forward at the onset, would been unacceptable for the Netherlands Government and its development organizations involved in the Museum and Crafts Project – meaning they would not have gone ahead with the financing of the restoration of the building. The inclusion of the cost of restoration of the former Beit Boarding School for Girls as part of the project budget served to secure long term accommodation for the museum.
  3. It should be borne in mind that the initial Netherlands investment in the entire building was in the order of USD 300,000 (value at the time of expenditure), that such money could pay for 6 medium-large houses and therefore would have amply sufficed to construct entirely new accommodation for the museum and crafts project.

Conclusion
The issue of the occupancy of what now is the Choma Museum at the former Beit Boarding School for Girls as of 1987 involved local, provincial, national and international levels.
  1. At the national level several ministries are or have been involved (Education; Works and Supply; Local Government and Housing; National Resources, Energy and Tourism and now also Chiefs and Traditional Affairs). Decisions about the accommodation of the Choma Museum should be taken at the national level involving these ministries.
  2. Relationships between GRZ and several governments are involved; all of these in the framework of international development cooperation. The moneys spent by these governments served to provide a permanent cultural service for the Zambian people and not to solve the urgent need of the Provincial Board of Education in 2013 for office space. Decisions made about the accommodation of the Choma Museum should enhance rather than damage Zambia’s image as a partner in development.
  3. The peoples of the Southern Province are and have been the special beneficiaries of the project as the project established a regional museum and crafts project. A decision to destroy their museum by depriving it of its accommodation is not going to be kindly received.
  4. A lasting, just solution must be arrived at that honours past commitments and is in the national interest.