Costa Gurupira

African Art Shona Sculpture - Costa Gurupira

Costa was born in 1965 in Mutoko Zimbabwe. He had a rather disjointed education in Mutoko and Mabvuku mainly due to the civil war and he only finished his education in 1980.

Costa's grandfather was a wood carver as well as being a counsellor and the young Costa used to sit beside him whilst he was carving walking sticks, cooking spoons, yokes for scotch carts and ploughs, among other items.

At the young age of six, Costa began copying his grandfather's carvings, even attempting his own items like wooden plates, pestles and mortars. In retrospect he admits that his early efforts were not perfect and that he was better at weaving  even managing complex items like woven palm hats.

His father, Israel Gurupira, who also specialised in wood carvings was another source of inspiration. Hand skills seem to run in the family with his mother, Joice, being a proficient knitter and crocheter.

In 1985 Costa began experimenting with stone starting off with small items like pendants, buttons and necklaces. Unlike most Shona Sculptors, he is a completely self-taught sculptor.

As his work sold well, he became more adventurous and started carving of much larger pieces. With his obvious talent, hard work, and interpretation in his abstract Shona sculptures, he is set to join the nation's leading sculptors.

Costa continues to experiment and has gained a reputation as something of an innovator and experimenter. In his words: "To get ideas I look through book and photographs. Some of the pictures in the books speak to me and instruct my hands how to carve them."

He also enjoys getting ideas from his customers, which is a challenge to his own creative talent and pleasing to the customer.

Up until relatively recently, Costa worked with the traditional local stones including Serpentine, Rapoko and Opal among others. He has now embarked on the challenge of harder and more durable stones such as Springstone.

Costa’s works have been exported to many countries including Canada, United States, Germany, Holland, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and the United Kingdom.

In 1995 Costa married Gracious Nyamakari, the wedding taking place in Harare. They now have a son, Chris Gutswai Gurupira, and if Costa's wishes are fulfilled, his son will also become a sculptor and an artist.