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Thursday, August 6, 2020


Enchanting Creatures of the Forest is the title of an exhibition opening in the Phansi Gallery on August 8, 2020, at 11h30.

“Timothy Mlambo, Themba Khumalo, Bongani Khumalo, Widus Mtshali and Sibusiso Gumede are a group of five artists who have been working together for many years. They live in the forest area near Mangusi in Northern KwaZulu-Natal. This is a remote area near the border and is a five hour drive from Durban. When I visited them we drove through a maze of sand roads to their houses deep in the forest,” says founder and director of Phansi Museum.

Timothy Mlambo who has taught all the others in the group, was awarded the African Art Centre Artist of the year award in 2003. He usually works outside under a huge indigenous tree, but also has a workshop where he stores his handmade tools and sculptures in progress.

Imagination runs riot in hand-carved indigenous wood from the umPengende tree the English name being Leafberry and botanical name Tapura fischeri. The wood is roughly cut with a panga or bushknife, then carved with a small knife while the wood is still green and then left to dry. When the wood is completely dry, two coats of an acrylic paint base colour is applied.

Then fine decorative designs are painted in bright colours. When these are dry, two coats of clear shiny varnish are applied. Timothy Mlambo and Themba Khumalo are experts in this method of creating sculptures.

Widus Mtshali and Sibusiso Gumede use the natural wood from the tree and after carving the shape designs are burnt in with a hot iron wire, (pyrography) heated in the open fire outside the house. This creates patterns which enhance the forms.  Their creative sculptures often have removable parts, which makes easy transport. Tails of animals, Leaves of ornamental trees, are fitted carefully to make up the forms.

This is the third group exhibition of these artists at the African Art Centre. It is curated by Anthea Martin and Phindile Mkize of the African Art Centre.

Due to Covid-19 this will be an online exhibition, the video of the exhibition will go live at 11h30 on August 8, 2020.  Viewing of the artists’ work can be arranged by booking with Phindile on 031 312 3804, or email her on to make your booking to come in person to view the exhibition.

Please note that strict Covid-19 regulations will apply and only a limited number of visitors per day and session will be permitted

Phansi Museum is situated at 500 Esther Roberts Road, Glenwood, in Durban. Contact the museum on 031 206 2889 or email or visit