Have you ever heard of CaliGraph? They are the creatives behind the larger-than-life, vibrant, colourful, hand-painted murals across Zimbabwe. Nyasha Jeche & Marcus Zvinavashe of CaliGraph have taken Zimbabwe by storm by visually expressing some of society’s key messages to behavioral change. Get to know all about the CaliGraph team, their work and plans for the future.
Where did you learn to do murals?
It so happens Nyasha who l co-founded CaliGraph with comes from a family who are painters and that there is the background to us doing murals.
Which one was your first mural?
The Oliver Mtukudzi‘s commemoration piece in Highfield.
Which one is your favourite mural?
Every mural holds a special place, they are however iconic murals that speaks volume journey thus far. I.e the legacy mural we do every year of Oliver Mtukudzi, the #GirlPowerZW murals in Bulawayo, our Covid19 awareness murals which feature Winky D, Jah Prayzer & Khama Billiat
Which mural has been the biggest project thus far?
Our handzwadzi/umnawami #GirlPowerZW project . Has been the biggest having done murals in Chitungwiza, Harare and Bulawayo totaling to 20. This project was made possible through Culture Fund, Nash Paints, Baobab Media and Skeyi And Strobo
How many days does it take to complete a mural?
Every project is distinct and unique and timelines differ as well however for our standard mural it takes us 2 to 3 days factoring weather conditions.
How many murals have you done to date?
We have done over a hundred around every province in Zimbabwe and some in Zambia.
How many Zimbabwean cities have been blessed with your murals?
A majority of the cities really we have done Harare, Bulawayo, Mutare, Gweru, Chipinge, Chimanimani to mention a few.
In your opinion, what hinders the visual artist industry in Zimbabwe?
Different factors to be honest. The economic environment, support systems and structure, literacy towards the field someone is in.
Were you supported in your artistic talent growing up?
Well yeah, l come from a family where you are encouraged to be yourself and pursue what you would want as you are the master to hour life and destiny.
How has the reception been to your murals?
Since our first mural in 2019, our murals have been well received as a beautiful addition to our shared spaces. I believe it’s our subject matter that makes our murals resonate with the communities in which we paint. Ours is to celebrate the goodness that’s been done by others, to inspire using popular figures and that’s something that goes well with the spaces that we paint in.
Have any of your murals been vandalised?
Of course yes, but to a lesser extent. Children scratch the murals, others see it fit to add their own images, posters on top of our murals. However, we give thanks to the community who own the murals. They make sure the murals are protected and clean all the time.
Do you think the murals have been effective in sending out key messages of social change? And why?
Murals are a key component in communicating important messaging. From the projects we have done, murals have a high success rate in sending out messages of social change. They can be taken to rural areas and other unusual spaces as well. Murals work well anywhere because people identify with art. It’s the art, the colour that attracts people first then the messaging.
Recently we worked on #girlpower campaign in Harare, Chitungwiza and Bulawayo. The response was amazing from the communities we worked in. The project was intended to inspire young girls to be the best they can be in their lives. The inspiration came from highly successful local women who have made it in their respective industries such as Sandra Ndebele in music, Stella Nkomo in business. All this was met with great positive and negative responses. Analysing the data we collected, the evidence points to a highly successful campaign.
What’s your creative process when a mural has to be done?
We research, conceptualise an idea as a team, develop it, sketch it, create a design that shows the final artwork – the design is done by Baobab Media and they are part of our collective. All the preparations are made such as scouting for walls, matching paints with the design then paint. The painting part constitutes of just 20% of the work. All the documentation and filming is done by Skeyi & Strobo who are also part of our collective.
How many people are in CaliGraph?
Our team has six members. However, we work as a collective. This means various organisations such as ourselves who come together with the same energy to collaborate and work. The collective has CaliGraph, Skeyi & Strobo, Baobab Media, Smart Zhet, Que and Art on Canvas.
Does everyone draw or you have different roles?
Everyone paints, everyone can do everything. However we’re all gifted differently so we give each other some roles that must be done.
What kind of support does your business need in order to grow?
Apart from commissions and paint partnerships, we need the city councils to open up spaces where murals can be painted. This means making the application processes for painting on council owned property a bit simplified.
What’s the wildest project you’d like to take on as CaliGraph?
Go on a rampage and paint all the flats in high density suburbs of all the major cities in Zimbabwe. This will require collaborations from all angles – the ministry of arts, the city councils (to open spaces for painting), paint companies, transport operators for transport, construction companies for scaffolding, corporates for money and other things they can provide, food companies for food and so on.
Does CaliGraph do other things besides murals?
We do set design for photography, film and theatre, we do fashion styling in collaboration with Skeyi & Strobo and we also do interior design (painting)
How can people get hold of you to have murals done?
@CaliGrph on Twitter
@Caligraph.co on Instagram
CaliGraph on Facebook
+263 733 886 672 Nyasha; +263 775 047 438 Marcus.