Respond Academy’s new resident stone sculptor

Emmanuel Changunda, second to the right, with some of the young people from Respond KtfxiSVmKAzEa7TYYftT
Emmanuel Changunda, second to the right, with some of the young people from Respond KtfxiSVmKAzEa7TYYftT

A gifted sculptor is to start his year-long residency at Respond Academy in Hastings and is hoping to facilitate sculpture workshops for young people

Emmanuel Changunda is looking forward to his residency at Respond Academy, a youth-led community project based in St Leonards.

Developing new styles, fusing traditional techniques with the modern and sharing his own experiences of stone carving, the sculptor will also be applying for funding to allow him to deliver workshops to adults in St Leonards.

Of Zimbabwean origins, he learnt to sculpt under the tutelage of the late Amos Supuni, an internationally renowned sculptor, and Emmanuel’s work is rooted in traditional Shona forms and techniques which reflect different cultural influences and personal experiences.

Emmanuel said: “My heart will also be true to that great heritage that I was born into. Shona stone sculpting is in my blood.”

African stone sculpture from Zimbabwe is often called Shona sculpture and is named after the Shona people, the largest tribe engaged in sculpting. Zimbabwe - derived from the Shona word dzimbadzamabwe which means ‘house of stone’ – is the only country on the African continent that has large deposits of stone suitable for sculpting.

Emmanuel added: “If it had not been for my own persistence, my journey to becoming an artist almost certainly wouldn’t have happened. I had a passion for art in my younger years but didn’t go to art school. Instead I went to church, which turned out to be my circuitous route into becoming an artists and sculptor. Since those early days I have been following the legacy of my ancestors,passing on the tradition of Shona stone sculpting from one generation to the next and keeping alive the tradition of making handmade carvings the way our ancestors did centuries ago. For me this is natural and something I must do, preserving the uniquely African Shona stone sculptural heritage that has endured for centuries.” Since arriving in the UK he has become increasingly interested in exploring themes of displacement and uncertainty, accident and encounter, and what it means to belong.”

Jc McFee, Respond Academy’s project manager, said: “Emmanuel is phenomenal. It is fantastic, as we have been planning this for four years and it’s come together. We’d really like to thank Trevor Gedge, of Gedges Bikes, for giving workshop space to Emmanuel. We don’t have the space and it’s great as it’s in Silchester Road, right near Respond.”