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Saturday, December 6, 2014


(The Stations of the Cross carved in thombothi wood by Joel Mbuyisa at Sacred Heart of Jesus Catholic Church in Mangete, South Africa. 
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Running at the Durban Art Gallery is an exhibition titled Visions and Dreams by Joel Mbuyisa.

Joel Mbuyisa was born in Mahlabathini in northern KwaZulu-Natal on February 3, 1946. He received his education in mission schools around his area as well as Roman Catholic Mission schools. As any boy his age, Mbuyisa spent his time herding his family livestock. While the stock was grazing, Mbuyisa and his friends would make animal and human forms using clay from the river bed iMfolozi emnyama (Black IMfolozi) and also scribbling on the ground images of what he had seen or read about at school.

The pastime creative experience grew with Mbuyisa until he was a teenager and could copy images from books and other literature as well as using his imagination to make images. This talent was noticed by his teachers and the local priest who encouraged him to attend a Catholic boarding school where he was introduced to craft work and technical subjects like carpentry.

The introduction to carpentry opened doors for him to explore products that are expressive and this was when he started carving images of the Catholic sculptures of the Madonna, Christ and those of the Apostles and Saints.

The shift from clay models to more realism of the outdoor plaques came about from his interaction with priests and mission schooling and was an awesome feeling for him when, from a simple log of wood, he could create an amazing sculpture that adorns the cathedral gardens and churchyard.

After he left school Mbuyisa went to Johannesburg and worked at steel factory as a welder and also getting side jobs of making burglar guards etc. However in the mid-2000s, he returned to his home at Mahlabathini and met with Musa Shamase a facilitator at Indonsa Arts Centre. It is through this interaction that the Durban Art Gallery has shown interest in working with the iNdonsa Arts Centre in this exhibition.

The Durban Art Gallery is situated on the second floor of the Durban City Hall, entrance in Anton Lembede (formerly Smith) Street opposite the Playhouse. More information on 031 311 2262/6.