Telling her story through art

2019-08-13 06:00
Nobukho Nqaba

Nobukho Nqaba

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Inspired by the hardships she faced from an early age, Nobukho Nqaba (27) hopes her story will serve as a reminder of the poverty endured by so many South Africans.

Her exhibit, called “Izicwangciso Zezethu” (We make plans), is on show at the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa in V&A Waterfront until Sunday 20 October.

Nqaba’s creations portray the lives of ordinary citizens striving to make ends meet. In her art, she uses China bags – a type of bag used in the olden days by men who left their homes to find jobs in the cities. She also incorporates materials such as overalls and old-fashioned blankets.

She says these items were part her life for many years, from when her parents moved from their home in Butterworth in the Eastern Cape to Grabouw and then to Khayelitsha, where she joined them.

“This was the typical life of a working-class family from an underprivileged background. We had to constantly move from one place to another,” Nqaba says.

She remembers that once they moved because her family lost all their belongings in a fire at the informal settlement in Grabouw where they lived.

“I still remember it like it was yesterday. There was a fire, a common thing in the informal settlement.

“We moved our furniture out of our shack, thinking it would be safe, but before we knew it the fire engulfed the whole area and we were left with nothing,” recalls Nqaba.

Seeing the lightShe enrolled as a fine arts student at the University of Cape Town (UCT).

When her life got better and she and her siblings found their feet, she moved to Woodstock, a place she currently calls a home “away from home”.

And she is at peace, doing what she loves, designing different types of art.

Talking about the meaning behind her work, she says people often take the role the working class plays for granted.

“I want to remind people that every job is important. Whether you are dressed in a smart suit or a blue overall, you are contributing to society. I also want people to remember where we come from, what mattered to us. These things are our legacy.”

Nqaba says the theme was inspired by the realisation that nobody chooses their journey in life. People make plans not knowing what the outcome will be.

This is Nqaba’s first solo gig since she graduated in 2012.

“I have been featured in other people’s exhibitions. It has been difficult to find recognition locally. My work is mostly recognised outside South Africa and it feels good to finally be offered this platform.”

‘’’’People has been showing interest and I am hopeful that the exhibition will do well,” says Nqaba.

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