A new Art Gallery in the making for Victoria Falls: artist Lawrence Nyemba
Victoria Falls resident Lawrence Nyemba is one of Victoria Falls well-known and highly respected artists, and his vivid and impressive paintings have become sought after pieces with both local and international customers for businesses and individuals alike. His artworks now hang in lodges, airport lounges and homes around the world. His story however is an example of discovering a passion and talent amidst adversity, and following through with resilience and dedication to achieve success.
Born in Marondera in 1991, Lawrence attended primary and secondary schools which did not have art as a subject, and art was not seen by his family as something to pursue as a career. Whilst there were glimmers of an underlying creative passion from a young age, Lawrence was not given the opportunity to bring these to the fore until later in life. Due to challenges in the country and a lack of support, Lawrence decided in 2008 to move to Kenya and begin training as a fitness coach in the hopes of finding employment in the field. Struggling to make ends meet whilst studying, Lawrence then moved to Cape Town where he was employed as a car cleaner. And it was this job that presented an opportunity which saw the beginning of a dream and the discovery of a hidden talent. Whilst cleaning a clients car, the customer requested for everything in her car to be thrown out as waste, and this included a bag containing oil paints and a few brushes. Lawrence seized the opportunity and began teaching himself to paint through experimentation with both materials and styles.
In 2013 Lawrence was employed as a mechanic assistant at a car turning company where he was being mentored to become a mechanic and during his spare time he began painting the cars of the customers he served, and recognising his talent, clients began to buy his paintings. This allowed for Lawrence to realise that his skills were of value and his artwork was sought after, and he decided to quit his job and focus on developing himself as a professional artist. Whilst it was not an easy entry into the Industry, he has never looked back.
In 2014 with the news that him and his wife were expecting a baby, Lawrence returned home to Zimbabwe and undertook French Lessons to try and break into the tourism sector as a French speaking guide, and they moved to Victoria Falls to look for opportunities for work. On arrival in Victoria Falls, Lawrence realised how the town was full of creative talent supported by tourism and with the knowledge his French was not quite good enough to become a guide, he once again focused forward on his passion and talent for painting. his dedication and resilience soon paid off as more and more tourists began to purchase his beautiful artworks and today, after years of adversity, Lawrence has firmly established himself as a respected and well known artist in the City.
Lawrence’s artwork is varied but his most sought after pieces have become his portraits, and particularly those of women. Through his artwork, Lawrence has tried to convey the essence of African women, and recognise the important role that they play in society, keeping families together and supporting communities.
Following the onset of the COVID pandemic and the downturn of tourism to the destination, Lawrence decided to use the time to further his dreams, and has over the course of the last year and a half, been working on his greatest artwork to date – designing and building an art gallery himself in Ntabayengwe village on the outskirts of Victoria Falls. His aim – to have an art gallery for tourists to visit which will support rural tourism, allow him to showcase his work in a beautiful self-built gallery setting, and to be able to run workshops to inspire youths from deprived backgrounds to pursue their passions.
Once completed, Lawrence’s gallery will add yet another fantastic offering to the diversity of creative experiences and offerings in and around Victoria Falls, whilst bringing in another means of creating a greater connection between tourists and rural communities. Well done Lawrence and we as the community of Victoria Falls look forward to cheering you on and supporting you in the reaching of your dreams!