Tribute to late PMB artist

2010-06-03 00:00

Works created by the late Shokwakhe ­Mngadi will be on show during the Jabulisa 2010 exhibition, which is being staged at the Tatham Art Gallery from June 8. Tatham ­education officer, THULANI MAKHAYE shares his memories of the Pietermaritzburg artist.

THE first time I met Shokwakhe Mngadi was when he submitted his work for the Echo Craft Bazaar in 2007. He tried several times to find access to sell his models and even changed his prices to make a sale.

His entry in the 2007 Bazaar was a model for a stadium, which is now part of the Tatham Art Gallery’s permanent collection. This early example was later improved as he started to combine photography and imagination, as can be seen in his later models of buildings and stadia.

After that initial meeting, I was to have many meetings with Sho. Unlike other artists I had met, he was determined to see his art (he never regarded himself as a craftsperson) displayed in Pietermaritzburg’s important buildings.

The city’s redbrick structures were his ­fascination. When I asked why he made models of these old buildings, his response was that he wanted to preserve the city’s heritage. Early in 2008, Sho negotiated his first private sale with the Magistrates’ Court for a painting of the court building, but due to administrative blunders the artwork was never acquired by the court. Similar occurrences were to happen with his other building models and paintings, but that never dampened his spirit as he continued to work to improve his techniques.

After many months of hustling, Sho took the advice to set up residency at Basani Arts and Crafts Centre where he worked with other artists.

In the same year, Basani started a working relationship with the Tatham Art Gallery through its Artists’ Forums and mentorship programmes. At these meetings, Sho never ran out of ideas and was always willing to listen or suggest areas of improvement for himself and other self-taught artists.

One piece of advice he took to heart was to work from life. He started to use photographs and make observation drawings for his designs. For a person who never had previous training in architectural design or technical drawing it was amazing how accurate he was in depicting the buildings.

As with most South Africans, the World Cup dream was slowly coming true. For Sho, the football festival took on a new meaning. He created his own epic football matches between the Zulu and European nations. These were highly detailed, complete with ecstatic fans, good camera work (close-ups, overhead and landscape shots of the game) and trophies. It was as if he knew that he would miss the World Cup tournament.

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