Creating a dream career

Walter Sisulu University fine art graduate Mziwoxolo Makalima’s work has been exhibited at the National Arts Festival, and a number of galleries, including one in Chicago in the US.

Makalima knew from a young age that he had a creative gift, and has not looked back since choosing to follow a career in the fine arts.

EVERYDAY INSPIRATION: Fine artist Mziwoxolo Makalima works on some of his sculptures Picture: SUPPLIED
EVERYDAY INSPIRATION: Fine artist Mziwoxolo Makalima works on some of his sculptures Picture: SUPPLIED

Did you dream of becoming an artist as a child?

A:Making art, that is drawing to begin with, was somehow always with me for as long as I can remember.

When did you realise you would like to pursue a career in fine art?

A:Probably when it became clear to me that building work and being the driver of a dustbin lorry was not going be at all satisfactory.

What is your earliest memory of drawing or creating something?

A:Sitting in class doodling in my nature study book, which produced a drawing of my class teacher.

Where do you get your inspiration from?

A:You know most times whatever I may be doing. I am always tuned-in to what may be a subject for a
painting or a sculpture. Any work is mostly work in progress in my head.

Is there one thing you must have with you or do before you work on a piece of art?

A:Luckily I’m never without a subject in my head. So the inspiration is always close at hand.

Where have you exhibited your work?

A:I recently had works exhibited at the Johannesburg Art Fair.

This year I curated my first show for the National Arts Festival (NAF) in Grahamstown.

I have also participated in a few group shows at Galerie Noko in Port Elizabeth.

In 2012, I exhibited in the Walter Sisulu University student exhibition at the NAF in Grahamstown, and my works were selected for an exhibition at Gallery Guichard, as part of a South African Fine Art Bridge between artists in the Eastern Cape and Chicago.

What are some of your future plans for your work?

A:At this stage, I would like to have more exhibitions happening so as to have my works out there for people to enjoy.

You were one of the finalists for this year’s PPC Imaginarium Sculpture competition. What is it all about?

A:PPC, I think was a turning point in my development. I really feel that I came out-the-box so to speak.

It was a thrilling experience to work with the medium of concrete that I had used once before in a commission for Xhosa Chief Maqoma, a year before the PPC competition.

This time I was free to be creative.

Who are some of your favourite sculptors locally?

A:Lwandiso Njara, a PPC runner-up in 2009 and Bruce Little, a sculptor based in Grahamstown.

What are your thoughts on the work of South African artists compared to other countries?

A:Certainly our artists compete easily with artists overseas. I think our palettes are much more exciting.

What are some of the challenges you’ve encountered as an artist from the Eastern Cape?

A:Maybe because “every house- wife” is an artist, generally most people are not able to distinguish between real art and pretty pictures.

As an artist, how do you relax?

A:Relax you ask. Maybe when I’m painting or sculpting or sleeping.

Otherwise, I watch or play soccer. That helps me forget about current issues.

Any project or exhibitions that you are working on?

A:My focus is on current affairs for a while, which is day-to-day life.

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