Patrick Mandabva was born in February 1953 and is a rural sculptor based in the Eastern Highlands of Zimbabwe, close to the Mozambican border. Following a basic training from an older member of his community he started to create a remarkable series of figures based on his experience of life and his traditional beliefs.
In 1992 he started to sell his works through the Nyanga Craft Centre and having been traced to his homestead he sold thereafter on a regular basis. He has not involved himself with the gallery system in his home country but two works were brought back to the country and entered into the 1996 Zimbabwe Heritage exhibition, where one of them was awarded a Highly Commended Certificate.
The works he has produced are small and yet rich in character and personality. His work was highly regarded by the late Nicholas Mukomberanwa and described privately by Tapfuma Gutsa as ‘real Shona sculpture’, in an allusion to the often derivative and tourist -oriented stone sculpture movement that proliferated at that time.
‘I first saw older men at work in the 1960s carving ash trays, bowls, sugar basins and other items. My interest in carving started when I was in standard 4 form in 1965, when I used to carve bowls and wooden spoons.
The late David Marira helped a lot to deveop my interest in carving. Unlike the older carvers who were doing it to earn a living, for me this was for enjoyment though one could get a few dollars here and there. David was just good at fine art. He educated me to carve using wood since it is easy to carry, brings about good natural shades and does not break easily.
When I carve I follow the natural shape of the wood but in 80% of my work I do impose my own created images on the material. On holding a piece of wood an image is automatically portrayed on it.’
In March 2015 Patrick will attend the World Wood Day 2015 in Turkey, an annual event which started in 2013 organised by the International Wood Cultural Society. While there he will participate in a wood carving workshop, exhibition and auction of his work.