Penzo Pottery - A joyous declaration of Africa, its people and its character!
To purchase this wonderful African pottery made in Zimbabwe
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The story on the Founder of Penzo: Penny Vincent
You may not recognize her name but her brightly colored animals, peacefully enjoying and playing amid her native African surroundings, are unmistakable. Penny Vincent has captured the innocence of these beautiful creatures and infused her unadulterated love and respect for her homeland into each one of a kind piece that has become legend in gallery and art circles worldwide.
From espresso cups to large vases, dip bowls and soap dishes to dinner plates and wine coolers all are blank canvases for cavorting monkeys, elephants, giraffes, warthogs, cheetahs and others that play amid lush trees and forever reaching plains.
Penzo is most famous for her jungle animal motifs but other less known collections feature sea life (Penzo Underwater), shells (Penzo Seychelles) and butterflies (Penzo Papillon) give balance to this fast becoming legendary folk art. Remember Africa is surrounded by water and home to some of the most exotic species on Earth.
Penny Vincent’s story of how she began to paint and then later taught her fellow native Zimbabweans to both interpret her art while inspiring their own, her struggle to bring their work- at first selling to tourist from a table at a small crocodile farm in Victoria Falls to the chic and savvy galleries of Beverly Hills, to Paris- is fodder for Hollywood. Perhaps, more remarkable though is her ongoing struggle to assist her community in Zimbabwe to survive, to gain a marketable skill and continue to produce and export these beautiful pieces of art amid growing and difficult political and economical conditions in Zimbabwe.
Penzo (Penny’s nickname) and her story becomes a little more dimensional much like Penzo’s art pieces once you meet Penny, a tall beautiful blonde woman with a cultured accent who has found a niche working with Zimbabwean artisans to create her vision of the African plains, flora and fauna.
Penny, a native Zimbabwean, grew up on a farm near Masvingo. As many young girls experience, she had an insatiable lust to travel the World and by becoming a critical/intensive care nurse, she was able to fulfill that dream. Penny has traveled the globe extensively the better part of two decades and lived on all the Earth’s continents, relocating to a new city usually two years after arriving. “Wanderlust” is how she herself describes it. Since her nursing skills were coveted the World over, she was never out of a job or exotic destination. While working in Saudi Arabia on a nursing stint, an accident resulted in Penny smashing her vertebrae and left her confined to a hospital bed for several months.
Bored, restless and longing for her Zimbabwe, this ever-energetic person took up painting during her confinement, experimenting with oil paints on some simple, cheap white plates from the local department store. Being homesick, she tried to bring Africa a little closer to her bare hospital room by creating her beloved homeland in sceneries on these plates. Penzo was born! Soon there were no plates left anywhere in the area and her creations ended up more in the hands of her friends than on the wall in her room. The moment she began to paint what she knew so well her native Africa, she realized that she wanted to return home as soon as she was physically able.
Back home in Zimbabwe, Penny acquired assistance to bring her work to the next step so she enlisted the help of some of the local unemployed citizens in Victoria Falls. She sought only untrained artists and taught them to create her own designs and images. In this beautiful village overlooking the mighty Victoria Falls surrounded with an abundance of wildlife and trained by Penny, it didn’t take long before these artists became more proficient and began to express their own inspirations.
She than went to a local facility for the physically handicapped. They overcame the restrictions of their handicap to produce the white ware on which the artists would paint these wonderful pieces of high quality and many are now artists themselves. After asking a few friends to help her set up at local attractions and the airport to sell Penzo the rest they say is history.
Today, close to a hundred people create Penzo pottery and while there are over 100 shapes and sizes available in 10 lines no two motifs are ever alike. Each artist signs and dates their piece and a generous portion of proceeds from the sale of Penzo is given to causes that directly benefit both wildlife conservation and the ongoing attempt to educate native Africans to observe and report corruption, poaching and other abuses that continue to endanger their animals and preserves.
Besides these contributions, Penny’s philosophy is that in order to ensure that endangered creatures do not remain only as characters captured by Penzo and its artist on the pottery, education is vital for conservation of wildlife for future generations. Life in Africa is difficult for a lot of people and wildlife conservation is often a luxury that one cannot afford although this is of the greatest essence for the future of this Continent. Therefore hundreds of school fees for children are made available by Penzo and the numbers are ever increasing.
In short, Penzo ware is a living, highly functional piece of artwork, which guarantees an original, stylish element to your home and is certain to enhance your table for any and all occasions.