Powerful story of art from an African worldview

ZIMBABWE: Art, Symbol and Meaning / ZIMBABWE: Art, symbole et sens

A book that presents Africa’s historic art as the expression of a worldview and a philosophy, addressing the need to reframe the historical realities of sub-Saharan art through an African lens, printed in both English and French.

This publication has evolved from my experience as Curator of the National Gallery of Zimbabwe - collecting Zimbabwe's historical art for the Gallery's Permanent Collection in the more remote communities - where every piece of art, functional or sacred, contained a depth of symbolic meaning.

The result of a lifetime’s pursuit, the publication takes the form of a documentary, starting in the ruins of Great Zimbabwe, a medieval city built in stone and rich in symbols which can be traced in the historic art of her recent past, and following its course and influence, only to witness its interconnectedness with African artists of today.

Through remarkable photographs, taken by artist Duncan Wylie amongst the remote communities of Zimbabwe’s Communal Lands between 1998 and 2020, the book vividly illuminates the rich aesthetic of Zimbabwe's woodcarving, pottery, ironwork, textiles, beadwork, interiors, including those who used and wore the sacred symbols, the Spirit Mediums.

It is no longer possible to produce such a record of art, for its material evidence in its place of origin is being lost to history. But without an understanding of our past, we have no identity on which to build a future. This is the critical significance of this book, to put traditions which have been trampled and almost lost to history back in the forefront of awareness, traditions based on very different thinking to that which has brought the world to crisis, and which hold solutions for a global way forward.

Our publisher is 5 Continents Editions of Milan, Italy. They are producing this beautiful landmark book with 256 pages and 210 full colour photographs, in separate English and French versions.

Due out in September 2020: www.fivecontinentseditions.com

The total cost of the publication is £48,000. To date we have raised £34,680 through sales of the book, contributions from the artist who took the photographs for the book, Duncan Wylie, and sales of his etchings. We are currently raising the final amount of £15,000 (our final instalment to our editors – please see our update), and we need your help to bring this to life and make a lifelong dream come true.

You can find more information about the book’s contents: www.zimbabwe-art.com

To help us get this book published – please donate by pre-buying a copy.

By contributing:

- £55/$70/60€ you will receive a copy of the book in your language of preference (includes worldwide shipping).

- Any donation amount is welcomed, if you’d like to make a straightforward donation, with the minimum on the platform at £5!

Also, available on special offer with the book are two Limited Edition Etchings of Zimbabwean women, Linda and Memory, done by the artist Duncan Wylie.

If you contribute:

- £450/$550/€500 you will receive the larger Etching, ‘Memory’ and a copy of the book.
- £270/$330/€300 you will receive the smaller Etching ‘Linda’ and a copy of the book.
- Both offers include worldwide shipping!

Please email us [email redacted](dot)com with your name, the amount you have 'donated' and shipping address. We will follow up with an invoice for your purchase.

The books will be shipped in August/September.

Special Edition etchings : Memory and Linda, May 2020. Editions of 40.

Any means you offer enable us to showcase Africa’s artistic heritage and tradition, help us contextualise the knowledge for the present day and pass it to the future generations.

We are grateful for your support.

Gill Atherstone

This is who we are:

Gillian Atherstone, author/curator
Born in Zimbabwe, 1948, Former Curator of the National Gallery of Zimbabwe during the 1980's, and director of private sector galleries of African art. Founder of voluntary charity communities-can-do-it.com in 2007, for marginalised communities in Zimbabwe caring for orphans. Currently living and working in the United Kingdom.

Duncan Wylie, artist
Born in Harare, Zimbabwe, 1975 and obtained French citizenship in 2005. He graduated with honours from the Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Beaux Arts de Paris. His paintings have been exhibited internationally: Louvre Abu Dhabi (UAE), Zeitz MOCAA (SA), Palais de Tokyo (FR), Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris (FR), Musée de Grenoble (FR), National Gallery of Zimbabwe (ZW) and more. He currently lives and works in London and Paris.


  • francoise donon 
    • £25 
    • 23 mos
  • Hilary Bradt 
    • £50 
    • 26 mos
  • Anonymous 
    • £50 
    • 27 mos
    • £50 
    • 28 mos
  • Bryn Thomas 
    • £200 
    • 28 mos
See all

Fundraising team (4)

Gillian Atherstone 
Honingham, East of England, United Kingdom
Duncan Wylie 
Tendeka Matatu 
Team member

Your easy, powerful, and trusted home for help

  • Easy

    Donate quickly and easily.

  • Powerful

    Send help right to the people and causes you care about.

  • Trusted

    Your donation is protected by the  GoFundMe Giving Guarantee.