Surprise Art Centre was initiated by Tapfuma Gutsa, a sculptor and Nicole Gutsa-Field, a painter in 1997. Surprise (the name of the place) is a railway siding, 20 km south of the provincial capital Gweru.
Artists in Zimbabwe usually work in isolation in very limiting circumstances. Particularly people outside the capital Harare lack access, experience and knowledge of contemporary Zimbabwean art & culture.
Tapfuma Gutsa has been aware of these problems for a long time. One solution was to create a meeting place where the artists can work, learn and exhibit their work and at the same time the public can also appreciate and learn about art. Since there was no Art Gallery in the Midlands Province before the opening of this Art Centre several artists have so far benefited from the facility.
The Centre consists of a main building to form the heart of activity encompassing gallery space, public social area with seating and traditional kitchen/bar/braai facilities and equipment/studio space. Further a guest cottage to provide on-site accommodation and living facilities for artists, as well as a large open area to act as workspace and sculpture garden.
Former use : pub and grocers shop
Total surface of the site : four acres
Architect of the rehabilitation : Tapfuma Gutsa
Renovation costs of the building : at least US$ 250 000.00 so far
Location : rulal commercial farm land
Type of occupation :purchase Owner of the building : Nicole and Tapfuma Gutsa
Foundation year of the centre : 2000.
Social and artistic disciplines
We involve the community on different levels with a broad range of programmes including:
Art Exhibitions/public interacts with artists, promotion of artists, discussions
Education/gallery tours, slide shows, visits to the schools
Entertainment/traditional music, performance, theatre
Other structures/organisations resident on the site
Previous visiting artists
Rashid Jogee (painter/sculptor)
Alex Lees (painter/metal sculptor)
Tendai Gumbo (ceramist/painter)
Paul Wade (painter)
Harry Mutasa (metal sculptor)
John Michael (painter)
Titus Rozani (sculptor/musician)
Ashley Nyagumbo (fashion designer)
Luxon Gutsa (sculptor)
Clarence Albert (painter/sculptor)
Tapiwa Jeka (painter/sculptor)
Kevin Tembo (painter/sculptor)
Crispen Matekenya (sculptor)
Moses Sande (sculptor/now late)
Local artists : Luxon Gutsa, Moses Sande, Clarence Albert, Tapiwa Jeka, Kevin Tembo, Susan Gutsa
Current visiting artists
Luke Bezuidenhout, Zimbabwe (Sculptor)
Rashid Jogee, Zimbabwe (Painter, Scupltor)
Delfina studio trust
BATA PATA, International Artists Workshop, Zimbabwe
TRIANGLE Arts Trust (International Residencies & Workshops)