Master artist of wooden and clay sculptures and notorious social comment
Venda sculptor, Noria Mabasa, was born in Tshigola Village Limpopo in 1938. Her career as artist began with a recurring dream of an old woman who showed her how to work in clay. She first had this dream in 1965 but started only to work with clay in 1974.
Her clay work combines the figurative and the functional in a more earthy way; pots in the shape of the female body or characterized faces, demonstrate the command she has over the medium. A lot of both her clay and wooden sculptures has a strong element of social comment too.
In 1976 she began to work with wood (again inspired by a dream), a medium traditionally associated in Venda culture with men. She remains the only Venda woman to do so. Her twisted wooden figures of The Flood (1994) and Union Buildings (1999) are some of her best known works. Mabasa found recognition nationally and internationally in the 1980’s for her pottery figures decorated with enamel paint; and some of these were included in the first Johannesburg Biennale in 1994.
Kraal decoration of Noria’s homestead
Noria Mabasa sculpture at Madi a Thavha
Noria Mabasa pot at Madi a Thavha mountain lodge
Noria’s huge comment on the floods of 2000 next to the Levhuvhu river where se lives in Tshino
Wall paintings of Noria’s guest house in Tshino
Hyena in Noria Mabasa’s guest room’s homestead
Guest house at Noria Mabasa’s studio
Awards and exposure
In 2003 Mabasa was awarded the prestigious national award of “Silver level of the order of the Baobab” for her “exceptional achievements in unique forms of fine arts under trying circumstances”.
Noria has also participated in various exhibitions locally and internationally since 1985 and her work is represented in major corporate as well as private collections worldwide: Johannesburg Art Gallery; South African National Gallery, Cape Town; Standard Bank Gallery; University of Fort Hare, Ciskei; Pretoria Art Museum; SASOL Collection; University of Western Cape; University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg; Sandton Convention Centre, Netherlands, Belgium, USA.
Source of most of the text: Stefan Kramer
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Tshino village in Vuwani region.