The art of observing family dynamics

BusinessLive | Scott Williams

There were nine puppies stolen, cursed and killed. According to Buhle Wonder Mbambo, his grandmother attributed his aunts’, uncles’ and mother’s ill fortune to the cursing of these puppies. His family’s future had, seemingly, been set in stone. This bit of family history recounted by his maternal grandmother is one of Mbambo’s formative memories in which his Zulu traditions play a central role. He is an artist, based on West Street, whose journey from his village in KwaNgcolosi to his studio in Durban has covered a period just short of a decade. He started with art classes at the BAT Centre in 2010 and was included in the Velobela mentorship programme at the Durban University of Technology in 2012.

Another definitive experience was his 2016 residency in Bremen, Germany, as the recipient of the Bremer Kunst-stipendium art grant. Mbambo, 29, creates art primarily in the medium of charcoal drawings. He recalls his first classes at the BAT Centre, where he was presented with a range of art materials. The sticks of charcoal transported him back to his village where he was encouraged to draw, even on the walls of his home. He views the success he has had with charcoal as deeply symbolic of the role he plays in his family’s rise from the symbolic ashes. His series of drawings is organised into themes such as Ukumisa Insika in which he explores the concept of being groomed for leadership, to bring light to the road. This exploration is biographical…read more

Image: Floating on air: Umkhanyiselwa II