Beaded animals on exhibition

2008-12-02 00:00

OPENING on December 4 at 11 am in the large mammal hall in the Natal Museum is an exhibition of the most recent work by husband and wife team, Ceaser Mkhize and Thafa Dlamini. The couple, who are from Durban, make beaded animals but beaded animals with a difference. Their work is in many art museums in the country as well as private collections here and overseas. The two work as a team, Mkhize creating the metal armatures and Dlamini choosing the beads that she then stitches on to the fabric covering.

Their work was first seen at the exhibition, Untold Tales of Magic: Abelumbi, curated by Jill Addleson in 2001, and has become very sought after since then.

Mkhize, who was born in KwaMashu in 1970, has always been fascinated by art. He had some lessons through the Velobala project at the African Art Centre in Durban and he also attended sewing and beading courses. He bought some beads and took them home to his then girlfriend, Dlamini, so that she could experiment with them.

Her first piece of beadwork was a belt and Mkhize says that it was so beautiful that it gave him an idea. He built a bird out of wire and covered it with cloth so that she could decorate it with beads — and what was to become a successful collaboration was born.

The couple sold work through the Bat Centre in Durban, and eventually entered the National Craft Competition where they won fourth prize. As their work became known, it was chosen to represent Africa in the Listening to Africa exhibition in Chicago in 2001. It has also been a part of many other international exhibitions.

Most of the pieces Mkhize and Dlamini make are animals. They do not attempt to use the colours of real life, but draw on the nature of the animal and use the shades they feel best describes its nature. As Mkhize says, “colours talk to the mind”. And that is exactly what their work does.

The exhibition will be opened by Professor Frank Jolles, the well-known authority on Zulu beadwork, at 11 am on December 4, and will continue at the museum into January. During that month, it is planned for Mkhize to give workshops on beading. For more information, contact the museum at 033 345 1404.

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