“WE all speak different languages – but we communicate through art.”
Helena Slater is a woman with a mission – to use her new Wearside business to help struggling artists in her native Zimbabwe, as well as improving understanding of the country here in her adopted home.
Fifty-three-year-old Helena has opened Africa Unique on Washington’s Swan Industrial Estate to showcase the best of work from Zimbabwe’s artists.
Helena came to the UK to study in 1991 and met her late husband.
“I have lived here on-and-off ever since,” she said.
“I feel lucky that I am able to be here as a resident and also to be a resident in Zimbabwe.
“That is why I can travel freely and that is why I can help more people.”
Helena worked as a health assistant with Mental Health Matters until deciding to pursue her long-held wish to transform the fortunes of artists in Zimbabwe.
“Last year I met my partner James Stewart and told him about my dream,” she said.
The pair have been exhibiting their imported artworks around the North East since last year, but have now decided to open their permanent base as a way of boosting the business.
“We have exhibited in Newcastle, Sunderland, Barnard Castle and Morpeth, but this is a way of trying to raise the money to go back to Zimbabwe,” said Helena.
“We still have a crate with nine tonnes of art but we can’t bring it home. That’s why I have been doing a lot of work to raise money.”
Mayor of Sunderland Coun Norma Wright will visit Africa Unique this Friday to officially open the business.