Proud of ‘angel-work’

2018-07-17 06:00
Xolile Williams.

Xolile Williams.

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Newlands-based Montebello Design Centre has helped Xolile Williams’s business blossom. Williams is a self-made artist from the Marikana informal settlement in Philippi specialising on angel-work sculpture and gardening.

He says if it were not for the exposure of Montebello his business would not have gained popularity. Speaking after his appearance on an SABC 2 television programme on Sunday 8 July where he spoke about his work, he says he has been running his business since 1997.

He says being an artist in the township requires patience and hard work as you do not get exposure to lots of buyers. He has over the years moved his business to different areas but Montebello has become a home to his work.

Montebello is a non-profit organisation aimed at creating a platform for local talents and promoting their work. It has various studios of different artwork.

Williams has his angel-work workshop among other studios and he says he is amazed by the support he has received.

He now encourages youth to never be afraid of taking opportunities and of having competition.

“I loved my handwork from the beginning, it is a gift that God has given me and I knew I would live from it. It was not easy but giving up was not an option. When I got a spot at Montebello, this changed. I would like to encourage fellow youth out there to never be afraid of competition and taking on a challenge – you never know what the future holds. There is a variety of craft at the centre but I knew mine was unique and would interest some people. I now have buyers from across the country.”

Talking about the idea of angel-work, he says he dreamt about it at an early stage of his business.

“I had made traditional Xhosa women that day and when I was sleeping they appeared as angels in my dream. I was confused and tried to interpret this dream.

“I then decided to see if I could actually make angel sculptures, I did not get it right but I kept trying. The first one that came right was bought by a local priest. I think that was a sign for me. From that day my business improved and I have now grown from making as small as 10 cm sculptures to about one metre long.”

He started by using wood and paper sculptures but has since started using cement. He supports his family of four with the income from the business.

Fiona Pape of Montebello says they are proud to have helped Williams grow his business and they will continue supporting local talent. She says the centre only charges artists a rental fee which helps with the costs of running the centre. She says they help by giving them exposure and allowing them to spread their wings.

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