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Monday, October 4, 2010


(Pic: Some of the delightful beaded creatures on exhibition)

Amangwevu – an exhibition of Ceaser Mkhize and Thafa Dlamini’s mystical and whimsical wire-armature beaded creatures is currently running at Artisan Contemporary Gallery .

The husband and wife team are SA Crafts Council award recipients and their work is to be found in numerous public and private collections as well as in the Constitutional Court and at Buckingham Palace.

Born in Durban in 1970, Ceasar Mkhize met his life-long partner and artistic collaborator, Thafa Dlamini who is eight years his junior, in KwaMashu in the early 1980’s. As a young boy, he acquired a keen appreciation for music and dance from his guitar-playing father and a dexterity in sewing from his mother who made and sold clothes for a living.

From 1994 to 1997 he attended the Velobala Group fine art classes run by the African Art Centre and took part in a doll-making workshop at the Durban Art Gallery where he was inspired to use beads to decorate his wire-armatured, fabric-covered sculptures. He took some beads home to Thafa to decorate a bird that he had just made and was surprised by the beautiful outcome. Thus began a collaboration where Ceasar constructs the typically half-metre sized sculptural form which, after discussion on design and colour, he and Thafa then decorate with an amazingly colourful array of glass beads.

Of their work Thafa says: “We tend to use colours that are not normally used in other forms of beadwork but which rather depict the nature of the animal. And so we will use more red for those animals that eat meat and more green for animals that eat grass.”

Whimsical and mystical, their beaded elephants, cows, frogs, chameleons, grasshoppers and other creatures have featured on numerous national and international exhibitions where they have won several awards. Also included in the exhibition at Artisan will be some oil on canvas paintings of the beaded animals by Megan Anderson.

Amangwevu runs until October 16 at Artisan Contemporary Gallery, 344 Florida Road, Durban. More information on 031 312 4364 or visit