The National Gallery of Zimbabwe, in conjunction with the Environmental Management Agency, will this year host the Tavatose/Sisonke 2015 Schools Art Exhibition on the Vanishing Wetlands of this country under the theme 'Going . . . Going . . . Gone: Vanishing Wetlands'. The show is scheduled to run from the July 4 to 27 at the National Gallery of Zimbabwe.
The exhibition aims to promote artistic talent at a young age whilst focusing on specific areas of concern for the nation as well as to develop a greater awareness of the importance of preserving wetlands. In addition, the exhibition is being done with the hope of developing awareness at an early age, issues around availability or non-availability of water and the consequences of this on the lives of people.
Wetlands are areas where water covers the soil or is present either at or near the surface for varying periods of time during the year, including during the growing season.
"The focus of this year's exhibition is to develop in the youths, microscopic views of wetlands, what is living there, insects, birds, plants, wild life and fish and the importance of sustainably preserving the ecosystem," said the Education officer of the National Gallery of Zimbabwe,Akim Nyakudya.
"This platform is for the youths to showcase their creativity in a way that contributes to a better society. We are also planning to provide a platform from which our institution can assess areas where art teachers need assistance in terms of art education."
This exhibition is an open call to all students from pre-school to senior school to submit their artworks in relation to the theme. Teachers are encouraged to explain some ideas such as locating actual wetlands, investigating what is happening on those lands at this time, for example human settlements in the form of houses, schools and churches.
The Environment Management Act (Cap 20:27) further on says, "Wetlands are areas of marsh, fen, peat-land or water, whether natural or artificial, permanent or temporary, with water that is static or flowing, fresh, brackish or salt, including riparian land adjacent to the wetland."
The Environmental Education and Publicity Manager of the Environmental Management Agency (EMA), Steady Kangata said: "Environmental Management Agency has recognised the importance of stakeholder participation as a way of promoting and fostering environmental stewardship and management. Therefore, the focus of this exhibition acts as an avenue to cascade environmental information to the wider society of Zimbabwe."
"Activities resulting in wetlands loss and degradation include: agriculture; commercial and residential development; road construction; impoundment; resource extraction; industrial siting, processes, and waste; dredge disposal; care and cultivation of forest trees (silviculture); and mosquito control through drainage, channelization and use of toxic pesticides. In Zimbabwe, commercial and housing construction projects are threatening wetlands," said Kangata. "Many home owners seem unaware of the dangers of building in wetlands. Constructing in such areas comes with a lot of risks. The soil is not the best to build because its structure is weak and mostly made of clay. Building on wetlands directly tampers with the natural flow of the environment by blocking water passage which is naturally instituted by the free flow of water. It directly tampers with natural water collection and leads to flooding.
It can also expose you to water borne disease such as cholera and typhoid, worse still the building can collapse."
He advised that people should seek advice from the Environmental Management Agency before going ahead with developing any structure on a wetland and get a written approval.
It is a legal requirement to apply for wetland utilisation from the EMA Offices in provinces or districts.
The Partnership between the National Gallery of Zimbabwe and the Environmental Management Agency brings a new dimension in the schools visual arts exhibition funding matrix, enabling many school children from across Zimbabwe's ten provinces to lend their voices in the discourse of sustainable society through visual narratives at the same time improving their artistic skills.
"We are excited by this development and are already thinking ahead, focusing on continued synergies over initially, the next five years with Environmental Management Agency and continued partnerships beyond," stressed Nyakudya.
"For 2016, our focus will be on Waste Management and we hope other corporate bodies, Embassies, Local Authorities, churches and private individuals will come on board to support this worthy cause."
The deadline for submission of artworks to provinces is June 15, 2015 and all artworks should be at the National Gallery in Harare for national adjudication by June 19, 2015. Schools can submit their works to Environmental Management Agency Districts and provincial offices and at National Gallery Bulawayo and Mutare for transportation to Harare. All artworks must be clearly labelled with the name of the student, age, grade/ form, name of school, province, name of teacher and contact details such as cell phone number and email at the back of the artwork. Nothing should be written on the front of the artwork. Selected art works will be exhibited at the National Gallery in Harare with the exhibition opening on July 4 and running till July 27, 2015.