Many interiors and landscapes has been designed around striking pieces of Limpopo’s world renowned woodcarvers, potters, textile workers, weavers and beaders before. It is that energizing powers of a sculpture like John Baloyi’s Godzilla at Constitution Hill that people so desire. Those lucky ones who own a Venda or Tsonga sculpture would agree that pure pleasure is what they give in return.
Youngsters and masters at work
Building on the foundations of the late Jackson Hlungwani and John Baloyi, other Limpopo artists like Mischak Raphalalani, Johannes Maswanganyi, Avhashoni Mainganye, Rebecca Matibe, Owen Ndou, Philip Rikhotso and Thomas Kubayi still make and teach art and still encourage youngsters to tackle the latest socio-political issues, nowadays with matters like xenophobia, sexual abuse, social grants and student pregnancies popping out.
With big pieces of indigenous wood becoming scarcer, artists like Japhter Luvimbi started carving invader woods with great effect. Avhashoni Mainganye lately transforms unusual stones found all over the Soutpansberg and David Murathi has tried his hand on Boabab seeds.
Abundance of inpiration for design on country side
Limpopo artists still make their mark in the big wide world too. From humble beginnings as a shepherd boy Azwi Magoro grabbed the bronze medal in the international Carving the future competition in China last year, carving his winning piece from a half a ton of Chinese silk teak in ten days flat. “It was tough, to have only ten days is a real challenge! While most of my 48 international competitors first planned on paper, I sketched with my chainsaw from the start”, he says. He has just returned from a similar experience in Turkey.
Vibrant new ways to use old patterns, spiritual symbols and botanical motifs can be seen in the latest art and crafts of the region too, and there is every reason to use them; Limpopo has an abundance of inspiration in colour, earthy textures, cultural heritage, harsh contrasts and extraordinary bio-diverse landscapes.
One only need to page through a few glossy interior design and fashion magazines to realise how young, successful South Africans also draw from their roots when they dress, design or decorate their own Afro-Chic apartments all over the world. It is frequently they who lead art investors, collectors and governments to the latest treasures on their ever-clicking mobile buttons.
What beats feeling it?
All these might just be click away to see, but still, nothing beats the hands-on, deep red earth smell, rural buzz, full colour experience of criss-crossing the dust roads through the valleys and mountains of the Northern frontiers, where many a traveller have left a piece of their soul.
“You are welcome to come up North and share the dreams, jokes and impressions of the crazy, wonderful, rural-urban mix of our lives in Northern Limpopo. The Venda Tsonga CraftArt Exhibition at Madi a Thavha mountain lodge this year, offers a fantastic opportunity to experience the province in one go” says artist Avhashoni Mainganye who has groomed several award-winning artists like Mbavhalelo Nekhavhambe of recent Gerard Sekoto Award-fame.