In his early years at Old Catholic Missionary institute of Chishawasha, young Hilary enjoyed sketching wildlife and the scenic landscape of Zimbabwe Eastern highlands from where Manuhwa originate. By the time he had graduated to secondary school, carving stones had become second nature to Hilary as he assisted his father, Damien Manuhwa, with waxing and polishing his fine sculptures. In 1999 Hilary enlisted himself as apprentice to one of the best second generation Sculptors, Gideon Nyanhongo, where he met and was also inspired by the work of his sister Agnes Nyanhongo, another Zimbabwean sculptor to attain international acclaim.
When Hilary’s father was sure of his son’s talent and determination to succeed, he actively encouraged him to find his place in the sun and venture into sculpture as a career despite the difficulties he told him he would encounter along the way. Hilary Manuhwa’s work has benefited from his familiarity, through his father with the more traditional way of sculpting expressing cultural and spiritual beliefs. Since working with the younger artist, he has been able to enhance his practice by incorporating themes of everyday life, or by producing work that comments on aspects of life in the 21st century. His sculpture, ‘Road to Freedom’, for example, was recently on view at World Museum Liverpool. It is a piece depicting refugees experiences, problems and aspirations.
“My dream is to somehow carve a new dimension into Shona sculpture by doing work that departs from our fathers and forefathers’ line. I am convinced it is the only way we can keep the art in progression.”