|Motshile wa Nthodi was born in Lady Selbourne in Pretoria on March 27, 1948, the eldest child in a family of 10. His passion for art developed early as he watched his grand mother carving and decorating pots. At 16, Wa Nthodi he decided he wanted to be an artist, but, as with many aspiring artists had to work while devoting his spare time to visiting museums and galleries.
Wa Nthodi soon met other artists who advised him on his work; including, for 15 years, the director of Schweickerdt Arts Gallery in Pretoria, Richard Friemelt. Wa Nthodi took lessons on art at the Ecole Nationale Superieur des Beaux Arts in Paris and completed the equivalent of his master’s degree in arts at the Ecole Des Arts Visuele in Geneva.
Wa Nthodi is an expert on woodcuts with his work reflecting traditional and rural life. His most illustrious work to date is From the Calabash, a series of 20 woodcuts, showing a life cycle in a Ndebele village. To Wa Nthodi colour is an important element and runs through some of his work with black symbolizing life, red the ancestors and yellow representing the cosmic elements of the sun, moon and stars, and with the calabashes representing nourishment. Passionate about African art, he does not reject European art but has a desire to make people to recognize local African Art and to keep it alive.
Wa Nthodi’s inspiration for From the Calabash came from a visit to England. Impressed by the way in which culture occupied a central role, he recalls that, “After visiting colleges, museums and other educational institutions during my exhibition tour in England, I was struck by the way in which these people spoke highly and respectably about their cultures: their roots. So I decided to do something about my culture - hence the woodcuts and poetry that accompany them in this volume.”
Wa Nthodi’s work, including From The Calabash, has been exhibited across the world. Not only an artist but a writer as well, he has written a book on his iconic work and includes his poetry. He still lives in Mamelodi and continues to work as an artist.
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Nelson Mandela Centenary Exhibition: Pretoria
Ifa Lethu has been implementing a vigorous exhibition and outreach programme nationally. To commemorate the Mandela Centenary, the Pretoria Art Museum has collaborated with the Ifa Lethu Foundation to launch he exhibition entitled “Nelson Mandela’s 100th birth anniversary/Resistance Art of the 1960’s until the 1980’s”. The exhibition runs at the Pretoria Art Museum until November 2018.
Australians Against Apartheid Exhibition: Cape Town
To commemorate the role of Australians against Apartheid, Ifa Lethu has collaborated with the Australian Alliance in the mounting of its exhibition entitled “Memories of Struggle: Australians Against Apartheid”. The exhibition opens in Cape Town in October 2018 at the Castle of Good Hope
Edward Maqwacha Miya is our featured artist (fashion designer) for this quarter. Edward has been fortunate to have participated in the Ifa Lethu Creative Entrepreneurship training and Mentoring programmes the Ditlabeng Municipality(Clarens) of the Free State Province in 2016-2017.
Ifa Lethu completed two further projects nationally in recent months. They included the Creative Entrepreneurial Project Phase 2 in Clarens, Free State and the Arts and Craft Beneficiation Project for the Cradle of Humankind (COH) World Heritage Site, the latter being the Foundation’s flagship project for 2016-2017.