The African Art Centre announces its hosting of the Uvo Lwamaciko Ethu Exhibition (Expression of our Creatives) in commemoration of South Africa’s National Heritage day. Observed annually on 24 September, this public holiday encourages South Africans to celebrate their cultures, diversity of beliefs and traditions and to embrace our multicultural society. The group of 10 exhibition participants is comprised of both emerging and established artists and crafters who have visually interpreted and celebrated Heritage day through a collection of two and three dimensional works. The participant exhibitors are: Welcome Danca (Painting on canvas), Zakhele Hlabisa (Painting on canvas), Jabulani Cele (Painting on canvas), Sabastien Pillay (Pen and ink on paper), Lindelani Ngwenya (Softwire sculpture), Innocent Hlela (Hardwire sculpture), Bhekinkosi Gumbi (Wood sculpture), Angeline Masuku (Ilala basketry), Lobolile Ximba (Beaded sculptural dolls) and Xolile Ndlovu (Embroidered textiles).
The various forms of art are indicative of our culture. Many of these traditions have been passed down from one generation to the next. The Centre has over the past 55 years not just fostered the development of our local traditional art forms but has also promoted the production of it. The value of indigenous craft is celebrated on a daily basis when someone purchases a piece of art or an international visitor recognises the mastery and beauty created by local hands. This exhibition provides a shared platform for artists and crafters to showcase traditional and modern contemporary visual art and craft trends. By presenting multiple genres of visual work, the Centre is celebrating the multiple creative voices of our artists and crafters and is encouraging preservation of our heritage.
Lobolile Ximba (1953) is a household name in the beaded doll making tradition of KwaZulu Natal; she is a master doll maker who has passed her skills to numerous doll beaders. Her sculptural dolls are clothed in bright beaded regalia; each outfit signifies either a young girl, unmarried woman or a married woman. Lobolile’s mastery of the doll making tradition is clearly depicted by her almost life size 1 metre high doll sculpture clad in colourful beadwork, isidwaba skirt and an adorable pair of canvas takkies.
Bhekinkosi Gumbi (1971) is a skilled self-taught wood-carving artist from Nongoma, in northern KwaZulu Natal. His painted sculptures are carved out of Umganu wood and he enjoys making figurines of political figures, celebrities, musicians and sports personalities. The most intriguing element on his work is his ability to capture striking realistic appearances combined with caricatured facial features and an expression of emotion and personality through gestures.
Welcome Danca (1978) grew up in Port Shepstone but currently lives in Durban. His artistic talent was spotted while in high school where he sketched in pencil and charcoal and when the late renowned artist, Trevor Makhoba took the young artist under his wing and mentored him. Welcome paints in oil and acrylic paint on canvas where he explores personal memories and everyday life scenes. This artist has lately been producing oil paintings executed in rich painterly marks in a semi-abstract technique through which he makes commentary on social issues.
Lindelani Ngwenya (1975) learnt wood-carving and drawing skills at the age of 10, by watching his father who was a wood-carver. This artist has worked in etching and lithograph mediums as well but has become widely known for his woven copper wire sculptures. He created a unique wire-weaving technique by meticulously plaiting two pieces of copper wire into a long strip which is thereafter woven into 3 dimensional shapes. His current work is woven in the same technique but in colourful telephone wire instead. His netted telephone wire figurines often portray individuals in expressive poses such as singing, dancing, and playing musical instruments.
Angeline Masuku (1967) is a widely respected master Ilala weaver in and outside South Africa. She learnt the grass weaving method from her aunt, Khawulina Gcwensa; by 1984 Angeline was already designing her own Ilala woven baskets. Angeline is known for producing cylindrical shaped Ilala grass baskets depicting geometric and figurative patterns. What has set this crafter apart was her ability to master the traditional Ilala weaving technique and being able to skillfully transform her products into contemporary vessels which are sought after by public and private collectors and interior decorators.
Xolile Ndlovu (1981) grew up in eMzinyathi Area and currently lives with her son in Richmond Farm also located outside Durban. Xolile was part of an African Art Centre embroidery skills development project called ‘Ntokozo’ group where a group of women narrated colourful stories on embroidered textiles. In this project the participating women were taught new skills of embroidery, beading and appliqué; this group produced the beaded South African flags which now hang at the Constitutional Court of South Africa and the Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban. Xolile became an outstanding member of the group as she continued to transpose everyday life scenes and historical symbols onto embroidered textile wall hangings. Her work has become a powerful tool of sharing personal stories with the public, her textiles are collected and treasured not only by local clientele but also by an increasing number of international art lovers.
Innocent Hlela (1971) currently lives in Ntuzuma Township outside Durban; he has been part of the Durban art scene for a number of years. He recalls his artistic journey to have begun at the age of 11 when he produced toy cars from salvaged wooden tomato crates and selling them to people in his community. In the early 1990s, he joined the Velobala Art Group, an African Art Centre outreach project where he was recognised as one of the highest achieving students. This self-motivated artist is highly expressive in mosaic, sculpture and telephone wire, more recently specialising in 3-dimensional telephone wire figurines neatly woven in the hardwire weaving technique.
Jabulani Cele (1981) is an emerging artist residing in Inanda Township outside Durban. He mainly works in oil and acrylic on canvas and his subject matter is concerned with his surroundings and township lifestyles.
Zakhele Hlabisa (1987) is from Mtubatuba area in KwaZulu Natal. He describes himself as a natural born conceptual artist when it comes to portraiture. He initially participated in the iSimangaliso art programme and later joined the Velobala Saturday Art Classes conducted by the African Art Centre. This artist works in many mediums but is commonly known for his acrylic paintings executed in an almost realistic technique. His work depicts ordinary individuals engaging in mundane but emotion-provoking situations.
Sabastien Pillay (1995) is the youngest participant in the group; this will be the third time that he showcases work at the African Art Centre. Sabastien has worked in his unique signature style of detailed pen and ink drawings on paper. His almost illustrative works challenge traditional composition principles and bring an exciting fresh contemporary twist to the exhibition.
The exhibition will be opened by Dr Gcina Mhlophe on Thursday 22 September 2016 at 17:30 for 18:00.
For more details contact the African Art Centre on 031 312 3804/5 or email
About the African Art Centre:
The African Art Centre is a fine art and crafts centre with a gallery and a retail outlet. Our core work focusses on artist development, showcase and growing the creative economy.
The African Art Centre was initiated in 1959 by the Natal Region of the South African Institute for Race Relations.
Role of the African Art Centre during the Apartheid Era:
- Medium of communication in a divided society
- Worked towards bringing people with common interests together
- Public showcase of African artists and crafters
In 1984, the African Art Centre was registered as a non profit section 21 company
AAC Recognizes and addresses:
- The problems of unemployment
- The socio-economic consequences of South Africa’s history
- The need for all people to have the opportunity to work and earn a living
- The intrinsic value of human dignity achieved through being able to work
- The need to kindle and stimulate self-motivation through acquired skills
- The need for personal gain and development to be linked as directly possible to personal effort - self-sustaining and economically
Creating an enabling environment for the sustainable development, promotion and preservation of African arts and crafts with special focus on KwaZulu-Natal.
- To provide a platform for training and development
- To provide an outlet for promoting and selling works done by KZN artists and crafters
- To create jobs and a sustainable income for KZN artists and crafters
- To provide a professional space for young and established artists and crafters to exhibit
- To discover, encourage and nurture works of creativity, originality and the highest quality
- To communicate and document traditional and contemporary trends in local arts and crafts
- To preserve our cultural heritage