Media statement by Nomonde Mbadi, Executive Director of Corporate Affairs
Never spend a day without making any piece of artwork. Create something to improve on your creative skill and talent, so says Mondli Mdanda, affectionately known as Spirit by his peers. He is a newly emerging African artist who looks destined for bigger projects in the art fraternity.
Armed with a National Diploma and a BTech degree in Fine Art, Mdanda began his career as an artist with conceptual artwork in class. He says his creative skill was polished when he did conceptual artwork because he believes the idea and reason behind making artwork is more important. The Durban born artist who hails from Ntuzuma and now lives Moriah, near Phoenix, says he started off working with found objects or recycled material which people no longer used.
Mdanda maintains that his professional career flourished after being involved as part of an apprenticeship in making the King Dinuzulu sculpture in Durban, near Warwick Avenue. He worked alongside Durban artist, Peter Hall, and he is grateful he learned a lot under his able leadership. He mastered the skill of conducting research and coming up with a sculpture using clay. He was thrilled to see his work cast and converted into bronze later. “I felt that my business connection was getting stronger after the King Dinuzulu sculpture. My life changed for the better,” he says. He then saw an advertisement calling for proposals to make a sculpture of Steve Biko for the Durban University of Technology. He put in his proposal and was awarded the tender to do it. On successful completion of the sculpture, he was afforded an opportunity to meet the Steve Biko family at the unveiling ceremony. He also made a sculpture of former President Thabo Mbeki, which was quickly sold.
He was later commissioned by a family to make a sculpture of female Buddha using cement. He likes using cement because it is affordable to most people. He adds that those who are well off prefer bronze because they can afford it. When clients ask for bronze sculptures he partners with Kim Goodwin who has all the equipment to do it. Greener pastures beckoned when he was tasked to make the sculpture of King Dingiswayo for his memorial.
He is currently working on the 50 centimeter sculpture of soccer players for 2010 soccer world cup tourists with a focus on the theme of local township soccer players. His sculpture must depict the street soccer where all soccer stars begin their football careers. He says if this is successful it will go on a bigger scale. “We need to capture the moment and get people thinking,” he says. He has been informed that this work will go on an international website. He adds that if it sells he will receive a percentage of the profit made. He has also put in a proposal to do artwork at the Moses Mabhida stadium. He strongly believes that artists need to be opportunists. Though he has gone through hard experiences as an upcoming artist, he is happy with his life now that he is in serious business. He says his family can now realize that art can make a successful business. He urges aspirant artists who may be experiencing pressure from families to keep their eyes on the goal and work hard. “Take any piece job to earn money to buy material and create artwork. As artists we are here to make history. Working for someone is like locking yourself in a drawer,” he said.
He advised artists that they have to experience all kinds of life. He says artists struggle when things are bad and enjoy when they make it in life. He is appealing to artists not to get discouraged when they do not have the support of family and parents. He says they may even struggle to get material which enables them to practice their skill. “It’s no smooth sailing in the real world,” he comments.
He is engaged in prominent private projects which he cannot reveal now until they are concluded.
For more information, please contact Bhekani Dlamini on 031 373 2845 to facilitate the interview.