The Lechwe Trust Collection of Contemporary Zambian Art

From Independence, in 1964, a National Collection was being established by the government. The artworks were on permanent display for some years at Mulungushi International Conference Centre, but funds for purchasing new works ran out long before the collection was moved to Lusaka National Museum in the late 1990s. During this time Lechwe Trust became the only charitable arts organisation in Zambia consistently acquiring contemporary art for public display.

The Lechwe Trust collection of contemporary Zambian art is the most comprehensive in Zambia, containing close to 300 paintings, prints, ceramics and sculptures.

The collection was started in 1987 by founding members Cynthia Zukas and Bente Lorenz, soon after the death of their colleague Henry Tayali. The aim was to stop exceptional pieces leaving the country, and to give support to worthy artists.

They got a lot of help from Ruth Bush (now Ruth Hartley) at Mpapa Gallery, who used to call them when she thought an outstanding work had come into her gallery.

With the start of Mbile International Workshops – forerunner to Insaka International Artists Trust http://www.trianglenetwork.org/partners/insaka - and the return of our sponsored graduates the range quality of works increased.

The Trust has managed to save notable works created during the 1960s and 1970s including Henry Tayali's "Destiny" (1975 – 80) and Akwila Simpasa's "Mother and Child" (1973).

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Akwila Simpasa, Mother and Child, 1973, mixed media on paper, 110cm x 60cm

Artwork donations continue to be an important addition to the collection. Significant donations to date include works donated by artists and collectors. These include Betty Wilkinson and ALLINGAM, jodam, Diane Bouchard, the Zukas family and the Royal Netherlands Embassy in Lusaka who donated 17 outstanding Zambian artworks upon the closure of their mission to Zambia.
Donations by Diane Bouchard include:

     

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Henry Mulenga, ‘Lusaka Rail Station’, 1990-5, mixed media 103cm x 82cm

       

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Shadreck Simukanga ‘Bathing Time’, 1989, mixed media, 10-4cm x 146cm

Other donations are made by artists who have been supported by Lechwe Trust, or come from workshops sponsored by Lechwe Trust.

And finally, as the Lechwe Trust committee grew, so did its range of contacts in the art world; and committee members are always on the lookout for worthy acquisitions by both new and early artists.