Yarmouth sculptor gives up home and car and heads to exhibit in Zimbabwe

A SCULPTOR is giving up everything he owns to pursue his dream of carving in Africa among the tribespeople who first inspired him.

Jason Parr, 41, from Great Yarmouth, is giving up his home, car and belongings to fund a two-month stint in Zimbabwe after a chain of coincidences led to an invitation to the Hifa Festival in Harare.

Whilst there he will be staying in the country's third largest township Chitzun Wiza which supports 1m people with a man he has never met or spoken to.

'I hope he is going to meet me at the airport. All I have is faith,' he said.

Mr Parr, who works with excluded youngsters, first connected with the Shona people he is going to visit through a film called Talking Stones which explained their approach to art.

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The artisan community set up by a British tobacco farmer in the 1950s makes its living selling ornaments to tourists and believes that chipping away at chunks of rock uncovers what was already inside.

Working from a similar position Mr Parr has lead many community projects across Yarmouth, revealing the chiselled tribal grins of Native America in totem poles.

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But Africa was always in his heart, and now pulling a few personal ones has lead to his dream trip becoming a reality.

Having first mentioned his love of the country via Facebook to the Norwich Zimbabwean Community things quickly took off. It turned out the person he was speaking to had a brother in law - the chief curator of the national gallery in Harare. Soon an invitation was issued to him to exhibit at the festival of arts, music and poetry in May and work there for two months beforehand.

Mr Parr has secured a �400 grant from SeaChange Arts but is otherwise paying for everything else himself - giving up the rented house he can't afford to keep up and selling his car.

He also hopes to meet up with Norfolk artist Anna Meduka who is also travelling to the festival and carrying out some charity work.

Mr Parr said: 'I plan to leave my sculptures as a small apology for what my ancestors have done.'

His artist host has asked for art books in payment for his board as well as some tools and clothes. Mr Parr intends to take as many charitable items as possible like footballs, clothes, pens and tools.

Born on Gorleston's Shrublands Estate Mr Parr, who has a 12-year-old son, was often in trouble as a teenager but turned his life around through music and art. As a member of Blues at Ten he supported a big Zimbabwean artist at Norwich's Waterfront.

He has previously exhibited in Holland, Mayfair and London. He leaves for Zimbabwe on March 18. Visit his website via www.pasonjarr.co.uk

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