Four years' prep in the bush for award winning Venda sculptor Azwi Magoro

Azwi Magoro

After four years in the bush, he decided to go back to school and study art. That is the background of award winning sculptor Azwimpheleli Magoro, or Azwi for short. He started with chisels made of sharpened bicycle spokes.

Azwi  lives at Muledane near Thohoyandou in Venda. His love for carving started in primary school where he made wooden spoons, jugs and knives from soft indigenous woods – with chisels made out of sharpened bicycle spokes and screw drivers. During his youth he decided to leave school and spent his time as a shepherd in the bush. Here he enjoyed hunting and learnt to observe nature carefully. After four years in the bush, he decided to go back to school and started to prove himself in art and craft classes. Today he is an internationally renowned and award-winning artist, the most recent was to represent South African artists in China this year.

I learnt from the elders and Nature itself

Most of his work depicts traditional themes from Venda cultural life. “We have to find a balance between the past and present life. Time and money have an increasing influence on art too. Still, I want to express the roots of my cultural heritage and to remind people of our rich tradition and history,” he says. “Our traditions are slipping away. We have to remember that wood is not only for fires”.

National and international recognition

Nowadays Azwi’s work is recognized inside and outside of South Africa. Most of his sculptures can be found in private collections, but are also housed in the collections at the University of SA, University of Venda,  Pretoria, the Johannesburg Art Gallery, the Olievenhuis Museum, Bloemfontein, the University of Zululand, the SA Embassy in Sibasa, the Ethnographical Museum, Rotterdam, Netherlands, as well as different places in Germany, The Netherlands, Japan, England and the USA.

“Fighting is not a solution”

His sculpture “Fighting is not a solution” was selected by the Brett Kebble Arts Award in 2004 and is now exhibited at the reception hall of South African Breweries in Sandton, Johannesburg. The idea behind this sculpture is to discourage the conflicts among South Africans, but rather sit down in peace and harmony to negotiate so that we can understand one another.Azwi can be visited at his home-studio in Muledane near Thohoyandou where he show and explain his art to visitors.
Source of most of text: Erika Hauff-Cramer

Contact details:

Azwimpheleli Gerson Magoro
Tel +27(0)83 475 3225
P.O.Box 42 81
Muledane 0950 (near Thohoyandou)