This Joburg man is turning waste into beautiful works of art

play article
Subscribers can listen to this article
Talented artist Mveliso Ntaba is turning discarded items found in his neighborhood into beautiful works of art.
Talented artist Mveliso Ntaba is turning discarded items found in his neighborhood into beautiful works of art.

He didn't have an easy childhood.

He always knew he wanted a better future for himself. So he decided to use the challenges around his neighborhood to create the future he wanted. 

Artist Mveliso Ntaba from Ivory Park, in Midrand, is turning discarded items found in his neighborhood into beautiful works of art.

Mveliso (30) first decided to sell eggs to make a living after struggling to find a job.

“I graduated in office administration at Ekurhuleni West College in 2015,” he tells Drum.

“But I couldn’t find a job. I then started selling raw and boiled eggs to make a living.”

One day while he was selling eggs, Mveliso was bored and started playing with the plastic packing that the eggs come in.

Read more| My story | Why this unemployed Eastern Cape teacher is helping matrics for free

Little did he know that this would change his life.

“I started cutting and shaping it and made a small sculpture of a house,” says Mveliso.

The customers who were coming to buy the eggs saw what he was making and liked it.

“They encouraged me to carry on making more stuff and said I could actually make money out of this.”

And that is how Mveliso became the artist he is now.

Mveliso Ntaba
Mveliso Ntaba sees beauty and reality in all of his designs.

Turning his passion into a career

He has since turned his passion into a career.

He makes tiny houses, cities and township, picture frames, jewellery, accessories, caps, and anything else that his clients ask him to make - all purely from recycled materials that he finds in dumping sites and shops.

“I use a lot of core boxes,” he says.

“I get them from local taverns and I also look for them from recycling sites. I must then buy glue and paint from the hardware.”

The material that the artist uses includes cardboard, glass, plastic, bottle tops, sand, and stone.

Read more| Austistic local man creates specialised chairs for disabled children from recycled materials

Mveliso, who receives a lot of support from his community, also has clients from all over Gauteng.

He tells Drum that he uses social media to advertise his work.

“I get a lot of my clients from social media; Facebook to be specific,” he says.

Most of his clients come with pictures of what they will like him to make and he charges based on the material needed and the size.

“Some we just discuss with each other what I can make for them and how the final product will look like. And I charged based on the size and material needed to make that specific work of art.

“Clients even ask me to make miniature replicas of their own house.

Mveliso explains that making one house replica can take him up to three weeks.

“It takes me about three weeks to make a eight-room miniature house.”

Born an artist

Mveliso liked making things with his hands from a young age.

“As a boy, I used to make cars out of wire mesh and things to play with.”

He didn't think of it as art though. 

“I wasn’t aware that I was talented and never took it seriously. Until I realised that I can actually make money out of it,” he explains.

Now, art is what puts food on the table for the young artist.

One day he hopes he can get a qualification in art.

“My biggest wish is to go back to university and obtain a qualification in art,” he says.

Read more| From earning R250 a week to owning a car dealership - a Gauteng man's story of hope

“I am currently looking for an art course at Unisa and I am trying to apply so that next year I can start studying towards a qualification in art and be a qualified person.”

“I don’t want it to just be a talent, but I want to be educated in it.”

He wants to do arts and crafts, as he would like to be an art teacher and open his own gallery someday.

“La engizob’ ngifundisa khona abantwana, [where I will be teaching kids] about art and making art on weekends and school holiday.”

Mveliso Ntaba
Talented artist Mveliso uses turns waste into art.

Message to the youth

His message to the unemployed youth is to be creative, in any way.

“You need to find yourself and the things you enjoy. Stick with them, try to improve and make new things,” he says.

Mveliso says those who are educated like he is but are struggling to find employment must try to look for different ways to make money while they are job hunting.

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For 14 free days, you can have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today. Thereafter you will be billed R75 per month. You can cancel anytime and if you cancel within 14 days you won't be billed. 
Subscribe to News24