The Engagement Party was the theme of the 2011 Harare International Festival of the Arts in the Zimbabwean capital. Heath Nash was invited to work with local artisans to make a public light installations.
For Nash, the initial inspiration for the project came from the city itself, especially the 1960s and 1970s architectural elements that dominate the city’s urban landscape. Nash also noticed how people in Harare occupied the shade beneath the trees in public spaces, engaging each other and also using these shaded areas as trade hubs. Nash’s idea then changed from public lighting to a design for shading.
Five artisans were engaged in exploring the appropriation of waste material for the design of shage-generating structures for the city. The design of the structures are based on repeat paterns, drawn from the city’s architecture.
The project morphed as such that Nash himself became a kind of hub for connecting the different skills and techniques of the artisans who worked on the project. The five “main” artisans were Booker Sipeyiye, Tinos Marimira, Martin Mhlanga, Kay Dirau, and Aaron Masaka. They were assisted by five other crafters, amongst whom were Clever Mucheru, Ngonidzashe Gono, and Tichaona Maledadi.
The creative process involved obtaining plastic waste material, scrap metal and wood with which to build the structures. There was also the issues of where the plastic would be cleaned and sorted. The final result is an interesting and colourful shade installation, ideal for the local population.