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Sunday, May 22, 2011


(Lalelani Mbhele working on his mural of a giant warrior)

Visit the new Village Restaurant at Stable Theatre within the next few days and you’ll find painter and illustrator Lalelani Mbhele hard at work on a number of murals which will give this new venue a distinctive and vibrant African feel.

Google him on the internet and you’ll find no less than 11 pages of references covering all the work he has done to date.

Over the years, Lalelani Mbhele has impressed with the quality of his work and he has done various illustrations for children’s books and other publications including works by well-known writers such Gcina Mhlophe.

Born in Umlazi, he grew up in Inanda and went to high school in Kwa Mashu. After school, he attended Saturday classes at the African Art Centre from 1997 and was given a bursary to study at the Durban University of Technology where he achieved a Diploma in Fine Arts. He is also a past student of the BAT Centre's Artists in Action Residency Programme and was a student of Andy Mason under whose tutelage he expanded his cartooning skills.

He held his first solo exhibition of paintings in December 2005. Titled Igxathu (translated as the first step a child makes when learning to walk), it reflected his new-found independence as an artist and set the scene for numerous exhibitions to come.

In February last year, he appeared in a joint exhibition with Bhekinkosi Gumbi at the BAT Centre. He then created a special series of paintings reflecting his aspirations of the 2010 Soccer World Cup for an exhibition at the African Art Centre. These works reflected his own versions and aspirations of the World Cup and the soccer players were all women dressed in traditional “Izidwaba” (skirts) and “Izicholo” (Zulu hat) proudly showcasing their soccer skills.

Last year, the WK Kellogg Foundation invited him to present a workshop to transfer his skills in contemporary design and illustration.

Moses Mucabel, manager of The Village Restaurant, has known Lalelani for many years. “I went down to the BAT Centre one day, looking for an artist to paint murals for my Karibu Restaurant,” he says. “I spotted Lalelani’s image of Sipho Gumede and employed him right away!”

The same murals seen at Karibu will be repeated at the venue at Stable Theatre and will depict Nguni cattle, a warrior in traditional dress outside a hut and Umkhosi Womhlanga (virgins at the annual Reed Dance) as well as ukhamba (pots), ugqoko (traditional meat trays) and ithinga (milking pail).

The opening of the Village Restaurant will take place on Sunday, May 29, 2011, at 19h00 until late. There will be promotions from various suppliers, otherwise a cash bar will be available as will be the restaurant’s wide-ranging menu of African-styled food. More information from Pascal Agarason on 072 028 0600.