Paper throne

2008-01-05 00:00

Sicelo Ziqubu, a young artist who is being noticed for his fascinating, intricate paper-mâché decorated themed chairs or thrones — has sold a 2010 themed work to a major shoe retailer who is planning to display it in various outlets around the province in the run up to the Soccer World Cup and is in the throes of creating another 2010 masterpiece for the eThekwini municipality.

Greg May, head of the Fresh Paint Gallery on Davenport Road, said Ziqubu spent a good deal of time over the past two weeks working at the gallery on his latest creations.

Currently the gallery has four of his themed chairs — two 2010 chairs, his well known Noah’s Ark chair and a BEE chair. The Noah’s Ark chair has the ark on the back headrest with various animals making their way up the chair from all angles two by two. The 2010 chair is a multi-dimensional commentary on the upcoming world cup, sporting “soccer legs” complete with soccer boots.

May, who has all but mentored this artist, says his all-time favourite is now the BEE chair which expresses Ziqubu’s belief that industry and the resulting job creation equals true empowerment. May says the chair is “fundamentally a beehive” which expresses his work ethic.

Ziqubu is a good example of May’s strategy which includes travelling to the far corners of the country to ‘discover’ new artists and then supporting and mentoring them as they move into the mainstream.

He first noticed Ziqubu’s work when he was placed second in last year’s Start Nivea Art Award.

During the run-up to this competition, Ziqubu explained that, as a young boy, he had been inspired by crafts made by prisoners at the Waterval Prison where his father was a warder. He also collected materials like clothes pegs, twigs, dry grass, pieces of broken coloured glass and wire. In addition to his show-stopping chairs, he still incorporates these found objects into drawings or paintings to create mixed-media pieces.

May not only bought one of Ziqubu’s chairs, but befriended the town clerk of Charlestown — the last KwaZulu-Natal outpost on the Mpumalanga border. He says Ziqubu works on his chairs in his dining room. At any one time, he has four or five on the go. The artist begins with a “real chair” and builds from there, turning out ornate and complex structures that tell a host of stories.

Ziqubu produces two types of chairs – his display chairs, which are smaller and simpler and can be used as a feature in a home, and the larger, throne-like themed chairs. “Sicelo is very fond of creatures such as praying mantises. These (display) chairs follow his traditional themes and style,” May explains. The themed works are commentaries on upcoming events or life changing issues.

• The Fresh Paint Gallery can be found at 60 Davenport Road in Glenwood and forms part of the Durban suburb’s thriving cultural Renaissance. Gallery hours are 9 am until 4 pm, Saturday 9 am until 1 pm or after hours by appointment. For more information, contact the gallery on 031 201 8367.

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