In celebration of heritage month in South Africa here are Five things we’ve learnt from Dr. Esther Mahlangu, one of the most influential figures in South Africa. She is a multi-award winning, globally acclaimed visual artist and South African national treasure.
1. Despite all the accolades and fame, Esther Mahlangu has forever remained true to herself and true to her culture and traditions.
“My art has taken me all over the world and I have seen many places, I have painted many walls and objects, and my work is in many museums, but I am still Esther Mahlangu from Mpumalanga in South Africa.”
2. She is a living proof that age is just a number. There is no limit to what you can achieve no matter how old you are.
“When looking at a Ndebele mural, people get a smile of amazement on their faces. And if they watch me paint, they can’t believe that I don’t use a ruler to paint the lines, and that my hand is so steady, even at my age.”
3. She’s an advocate for education. Despite having the skill and talent, education is an important investment even in the creative space.
“I want to contribute to South Africa’s image and history in the creative space. What is most important to me is to have formal educational schools and facilities teach African art. That is a dream I am building towards.”
4. Art is all around you, even in the most natural and mundane objects.
“When I am not travelling for exhibitions, I still spend most of my time mentoring young artists in the traditional style of Ndebele design. I teach mostly young people and elders how to mix pigments and paint straight lines, free-handed and without sketches, using their fingers or chicken feathers.”
5. She is an advocating for preserving cultural heritages
“I have always had the calling to teach the science and significance of Ndebele painting, and why we paint. Over the decades it has become my goal to preserve my cultural heritage.
Images by Clint Strydom