THE STARS ARE BRIGHT: NEW EXHIBITION OF YOUNG
ZIMBABWEAN PAINTERS OF THE 1940s OPENS IN SHOREDITCH
This month, a fascinating collection of rediscovered early works by young Zimbabwean painters will be
seen by the public for the first time in almost seventy years. The Stars are Bright: Zimbabwe through
the eyes of its young painters from Cyrene (1940-1947), a free exhibition, opens at The Theatre
Courtyard Green Rooms in Shoreditch on 15 July, one of many celebrations of London’s arts world
reopening this summer.
The Stars are Bright presents a collection of extraordinary paintings and drawings created by more
than forty young Zimbabwean artists over a seven-year period and captures their unique perspectives
on the changing world around them. It includes works by Samuel Songo, Kingsley Sambo, Timothy
Dhlodhlo and others who went on to become the precursors to Zimbabwean Modern Art.
Having been preserved in the basement of the former St Michael and All Angels’ Church, a six-minute
walk from where they will now be displayed, the works have not been publicly exhibited together since
The Stars are Bright comes at a critical time to share the story of African artists and their work. It
sheds much-deserved light on these young artists and this vital chapter of Zimbabwe’s art history.
After the exhibition, the artworks will tour Zimbabwe to be shown there for the first time since the
RARE COLLECTION GOES ON SHOW FOR FIRST TIME IN ALMOST 70 YEARS FOR A LIMITED DURATION;
Selected from a more substantial collection, the 25 large paintings and more than 50 smaller works
were created while the artists were students aged 10 to 20 at Cyrene, a boys’ mission school founded
in 1940 near Bulawayo in colonial Zimbabwe (then known as Southern Rhodesia) by Edward “Ned”
Paterson, a Scottish clergyman. Paterson, who was passionate about the visual arts, had the pupils
take part in weekly art classes, making it one of the first African schools to incorporate art into the
Inspired by the varied surrounding landscape, a country in the midst of change, and a rich practice of
religion and folklore, the young men produced a unique and vast body of artwork out of their life and
culture. This exhibition highlights the richness and variety of techniques, styles and themes, whilst
offering an insight into key moments of Zimbabwe’s life and culture during this colonial phase.
Just ten days after the lock-down on galleries has been lifted, The Stars are Bright joins the
celebration of life returning to London. Various measures have been implemented to safeguard the
health and safety of visitors, including the requirement to pre-book a time slot, a one-way route
through the exhibition and reminders at the venue about social distancing. Children are welcome and
will find engaging activities throughout the exhibition.
Exhibition co-curators Georgia Ward, Chiedza Mhondoro and Jessica Ihejatoh say:
“When we began organising The Stars are Bright, which takes its title from a work in the exhibition by
Musa Nyahwa dated 1945, we could never have imagined just how much the world would change
around us. It is a critical time to share the work of Black artists past and present. We encourage
viewers to let their imagination take inspiration from the environment in which the artworks were made.
The Cyrene paintings remind us that there is no single story of African Art. This exhibition is an
exploration of life, the natural world, spirituality and change, all guided by Zimbabwe's bright young
The Stars are Bright is produced by Idili Live and presented by The Belvedere Trust. Trustee Alex
“This exhibition and collection of paintings exemplifies The Belvedere Trust’s values: excellence in
education and inspiration of many young artists. In these difficult times, we want to create a safe
space for people to enjoy some sense of normalcy and a connection with the natural world. We hope
the public will enjoy The Stars are Bright as much as we have enjoyed being a part of the project.”
Further information and essential pre-booking available at TheStarsAreBright.com.
Press are invited to review the exhibition on Tuesday 14 July at a pre-booked time. For more
information and to request a review slot please contact Phoebe Gardiner at London Communications
Agency: / 07595 766831