Simon Chidharara was born in 1980 in Nyanga in the eastern province of Manicaland, a beautiful mountainous region with a strong sculpting tradition located near the Mozambique border. He started sculpting at the age of 11, apprenticing with his older brother Kenneth. Simon completed his secondary education before deciding that he wanted to pursue his passion for carving full time. Learning is still important to him and he is voracious reader. “Any topic interests me,” he says. “Geography, history, science all influence human life and I like to find out more about what makes us do the things we do, and feel the way we feel.”
Simon is one of the founding members of the Nyanga Arts Centre, a co-operative venture run by local artists in the Nyanga region. He says the stone from the region is itself a vital source of inspiration to him and that he will always remain close to his rural roots. Indeed a strong influence in Simon’s work is the natural world and man’s connection to birds and animals. When he went to Canada in 2007 Simon was the first third-generation artist from the Nyanga region to travel overseas to represent himself and present his work directly to an international audience.
He has long been popular with Canadian collectors who are drawn to the expressive range in his sculptures and the emotional depth. Simon’s subjects are frequently women or “feminine spirits,” which are sometimes represented as mythical creatures. “Women are the centre of life,” he explains, “So I like to celebrate everything about them.”
Simon has participated in several group exhibitions at the National Gallery of Zimbabwe in Mutare. His work has been bought by galleries and collectors from Holland, the UK, the US, South Africa, Canada and Germany. Simon is the first artist to be invited back for a second residency with ZimArt (2013).