Thomas Kubayi an exceptional artist, person, musician and leader

Thomas Kubayi

Thomas Kubayi is a very talented and popular wood carver, drum builder, musician and story teller. He has his own Vutsila art centre in Tshivhuyuni village, near Elim, Northern Limpopo. Here he built up his own rural gallery where he teaches young artists to carve and make traditional music and instruments. He has an exceptional gift for rythm and music and frequently pulls in young people to play traditional music for fun whilst learning.

An exceptional artist and person

Woodcarving is inherited in Thomas’ family; both his grandfather and father were woodcarvers making functional art. He and the late and famous Jackson Hlungwani and John Baloyi were friends who visited each other,  worked together and shared their knowledge. In his artworks, Thomas expresses his dreams and visions of day to day life. He likes to make big sculptures. His 3 meter high Mandela sculpture is an expression of the great man’s strong yet gentle integrity. He purposely also makes smaller carvings so foreign tourists can take it with in their luggage. Thomas’ work is found in many private and public collections all over the world. He also features in Elbé Coetsee’s recently published book CraftArt in South Africa, Creative intersections, a tribute to exceptional artists, collectors and retailers who have played a pivotal role in the enhancement of craft art in South Africa.

His workshop and art gallery in rural Venda is a popular stop

Thomas’ workshop and art gallery in Tshivhuyuni Village are open for visitors and he is available to organise music performances and woodcarving and music workshops  He is a patient, teacher and guests love to do woodcarving workshops in the relaxed, rural atmosphere of  the Vutshila art centre with its sweeping views of the villages on the foothills of the Soutpansberg. Thomas knows the ‘behaviour’ of indigenous wood inside out and guides his students to see the ‘figures emerging form the wood’ as well.  There is always time to make a little music inbetween carving workshops too.

A community leader

As a sculptor, he strongly believes he has to be a role model in his community. Therefore, he’s also involved in different initiatives in the village. He teaches young people to carve wood and supports a women’s cooperative in mat weaving and  preparation of traditional food. Ever since his youth he’s trying his very best to keep up the cultural village life.

 Contact details:

Thomas Kubayi
Tel +27(0)72 180 2398
PO Box 726
Mashamba 0942