First Floor Gallery recently opened a solo exhibition by Zimbabwean artist Helen Teede in their new space inside the Elephant’s Walk Artist Village Complex in Victoria Falls.
The opening for the art exhibition titled ‘Artemisia’ was well attended by art lovers, who included the local artist and business community, while observing the Covid-19 guidelines. It was also well-supported by local businesses like The River Brewery, Ellie Cafe and wine company Elixir.
This is Helen Teede’s first exhibition in Zimbabwe since her return from Venice, Italy where she recently completed her Masters in Visual Art at IUAV University of Venice with a thesis and exhibition exploring, “Phenomenology of Painting as an Intersectional Medium”.
The title, Artemisia, is a name derived from Greek goddess Artemis – the hunter and protector of nature.
It is also the name of the Artemisia Gentileschi, the woman painter as a feminist icon in life and practice.
Furthermore, it is also the name of a plant native to Zimbabwe named after the ancient Greek queen and a naval commander Artemisia of Caria, who lived in fourth century BC.
By coincidence, it is also known as the ‘Mother of all herbs’ benefiting pregnant women, through history. In Africa, Artemisia is crucial for protecting people from malaria and in 2020 was even looked at for the possibility of protecting people from Covid-19.
In this way, Artemisia became for Teede a by-word and a key to a matrix in which contemporary environmental concerns and mythology becomes a platform for interconnectedness of cultures and histories through nature and feminist narrative.
Reconciliation of myth and reality through the prism of history is unequivocally a motivator and foundation for Teede’s practice, which while rooted in Zimbabwe is evolving in conversation between cultures and continents, with Italy as a touch stone and a counterpoint.
The artworks presented in the exhibition are generous and expansive narratives, each canvas taking a single colour as a point of departure, with drawing and gesture synthesizing the poetic, the passionate and the vulnerable at the core of ideas around social and ecological justice in this turbulent time.
“There is space of song, pleasure, despair, joy, fear and optimism. Everything human and nothing that is alien to any of us,” said Marcus Gora, the First Floor Gallery director.
Gora added that there is genuine excitement in the Mosi-Oa-Tunya (Victoria Falls) artist community as the new space will give an opportunity for more artists to explore their ideas without market pressure and this will enrich the variety of artworks that will be made in the region.
“It is also an opportunity to bring people together and develop a positive outlook as the new city sets itself up for a roaring comeback after the devastating Covid-19 disruptions to the tourism industry,” he said. Nhau/Indaba