Arts View

Michael Moyowachena

Michael Moyowachena - 'Sculpting from the heart'

Although currently based in Johannesburg, Michael was born and raised in Zimbabwe, in Bikita district, about 150km east of the World Heritage site ‘Great Zimbabwe’.

He describes the Bikita of his youth as a very nice village where everyone knew each other by name and despite being a place with a range of belief systems , religions and cultures it felt like everyone was part of one big family. 

He contrasts that with how it is now.  Things do not appear to have changed for the better.  The environment is drier and the discipline elders once enforced together with the closeness that was a hallmark of interpersonal relationships is no more.

Back then he opines youngsters valued the process of putting in the time to achieve something.  These days it feels as if a lot of them are forever chasing short cuts.

Respect and humility are key values he has taken away from growing up in Bikita.  Never look down on anyone but don’t be afraid to stand up for yourself.  It would appear that these values and outlook have evidently served him well.


Elephant trio

As the fifth of six siblings he has always been close to his younger brother.  He cites being at the younger end of the family as a benefit because there are more seniors to look to for advice on personal or academic issues.


He started sculpting as a hobby at an early age without realising it was something he could or would one day earn a living from.

In fact he had set his sights on a career in finance but was unable to pursue this due to financial constraints.

From a distance sculpting would seem like an expensive hobby.  Michael says things were different in his village because of the proximity to free and readily available material.  One would simply go to the mountain and collect material to sculpt.

He adds, if you have a passion for something you don’t need expensive tools to produce works of art.  Everyday items can be adjusted / repurposed for use as tools.


Michael didn’t attend art school but he did have mentors.  Successful artists like Casper Darare and the Chikumbirike Brothers were sources of inspiration as were those whose art wasn’t quite there.  Such works would imbue one with a desire to do better.



He started carving full-time after high school.  A lack of funds prevented him from studying ‘Applied Art and Design’ so the informal route of learning was all that was open to him.

The ability to accept criticism is something he feels has helped him to grow.  Critically analyzing the critic and drawing points of validity from the process is a skill in itself.

Artists often have to balance sticking to their ethos and artistic principals against economic realities.  As a family man with 2 children striking the right balance isn’t always easy.  Then there is the issue of clients who do not pay on time or do not want to pay a fair price.

Such situations lead to unnecessary stress and can even impact the next piece the artist works on because they are under pressure.


In terms of unfulfilled desires he would like to be commissioned for some landmark projects.  This would enable him to leave a legacy for his family and crown a fulfilling career. He would also like to interact more with fellow artists in symposiums and other such environments where artists can come together.

Musicians and actors usually garner a lot of plaudits and press coverage the world over when compared to artists from other spheres, and in Michael’s opinion this is no less the case in Africa.  He feels governments should do more to support artists.

Come what may Michael will continue to pick up his tools to create that which the ‘minds eye’ first concieves into a beautiful work of art.

© 2019 All rights reserved – African Global Networks (AGN) – September 2019