African culture as living art

Picture: ALAN EASON

A celebration of the Xhosa culture and heritage was part of the Anything But Painting exhibition held by the East London Fine Art Society (ELFAS) at the Ann Bryant Gallery recently.

Inspired by her late great grandmother’s grind stones for grinding maize, Lerato Mfazwe’s a live installation at the exhibition, titled Ukungqusha, about grinding maize on stones, was inspired by her late great-grandmother.

“The stones belong to my late great- grandmother, who used to use them for grinding maize to prepare food for the family.

“The act was also to honour my African heritage, my roots, as well as to celebrate my culture,” Mfazwe said.

HONOURING HER ROOTS: Lerato Mfazwe at the Anything But Painting exhibition at Ann Bryant Gallery recently. Picture: ALAN EASON

The installation also aimed to showcase how differently a traditional, young Xhosa girl is raised compared to a boy, she said.

Mfazwe also reminded her audience how the old ways of planting and sowing had little negative effect on the environment.

“The traditional ways of growing and processing food has a positive impact on the environment.

“In my opinion, the modern ways play a part in polluting our planet.

“It also takes time to produce things and I wanted that to come out,” she said.

Mfazwe said admitted there was that there’s still so much more to learn about the culture, and other aspects to expose.

Choosing handcrafted works was a top priority for Mfazwe, who worked alongside the Walter Sisulu University School of Applied Arts for the clay works, the Eastern Cape Craft Collection for the beads, and Stephanie Frauenstein of the Bamburgh Art Group for the stones and baskets.

“The people who that attended loved the incorporation of the handcrafted items.”

“I would’ve also loved to include it in the Umtiza Arts Festival but I was working,” Mfazwe said.

The artist said she looked She says she looks forward to incorporating more in into the installation, such as live music and working with other artists.

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