Young Ceramicist Launches his Collection in Johannesburg

Johannesburg – The Arts and Ubuntu Trust is proud to present ceramicist S’bonelo Tau Luthuli’s collection SONG OF THE SOIL  (Ihubo leNgabadi) – CERAMIC WORKS from 4 to 29 May 2016 at the Constitutional Hill’s Women’s Prison at 6pm.

The Arts and Ubuntu Trust, formed in 2005 to honour and preserve the legacy of the  internationally recognized South African painter and sculptor, Ernest Mancoba (1904-2002), has done extensive  arts education and development work in peri-urban and rural areas. Between 2006-2007, the trust organized a commemorative exhibition In the name of all Humanity, the African Spiritual Expression of Ernest Mancoba that showed for nine months at the Gold of Africa Museum in Cape Town. With its outreach project from this exhibition, The Ernest Mancoba Education Poster Project (EMEPP the trust, travelled the length and breadth of South Africa, with a total mileage of more than 30 000 km.

The EMEPP exhibited films and posters of Mancoba’s works, while concurrently running workshops, in partnership with leading artists Peter Clarke, Lionel Davis, Charles Nkosi and others who contributed as teachers. This programme reached more than 2000 artists, teachers and students of the arts in peri-urban and rural areas in all nine provinces of South Africa. Art produced in these workshops formed an exhibition, Widening the circle, in the spirit of Mancoba, which travelled to Pretoria, Kimberley, Durban, Polokwane, Eastern and Western Cape from 2012 to 2015.

The trust is now making short films about the arts aimed at audiences in peri-urban and rural areas nationally. It continues to develop outreach educational work under the umbrella of its Travelling Arts Institute. The Institute, which promotes and trains young artists, documents indigenous visual heritage and encourages practical learning exchanges between experienced and new artists, is developing an annual intensive portfolio school to provide an entrance mechanism for young artists into arts studies and a career.

Through it’s outreach projects, the trust identifies young artists whose work deserves exposure. Luthuli is the first beneficiary.  This 34 year old’s love for ceramics developed when he was still in high school where he participated in visits to galleries and museums.

“We went to the Durban Arts Gallery and I saw Clive Sithole’s work. His pot was beautiful, big and orange. I loved the uniqueness of his work and how it was designed. From that point I knew that was what I wanted to do,” said Luthuli.

While Luthuli’s desire to pursue this profession arose from a chance visit to an art gallery,  few of South Africa’s population visits museums and galleries, only 2% are exposed to these facilities and this lessens chances of ever considering a career in the arts.  Luthuli thrived against all the odds. He was brought up in a background where art was not considered a career and, like 95% of young South African artists, he did not have the tertiary institution entry requirement of an art portfolio. He therefore needed to enroll for a foundation programme prior to his admission into art studies at Durban University of Technology. He was further challenged by not having financial backing, which  forced him to leave university. He worked at KFC  as a waiter and returned to finish his studies later.

Luthuli’s autobiographical collection of pots, to be exhibited 4-29 May 2016 at the Constitutional Hill’s Women’s Prison, are a demonstration of resilience. His journey is characterized by family resistance and a painful  experiences but his pots are an inspiration that even the most unpleasant life experiences can be turned into positive results. Through his rare artistry embedded in the pots, the inscriptions are a narrative of his journey. Take for instance the inscription on the piece Relebohile Lepheana, named after his ex lover to  whom he had been, but the relationship didn’t stood the test of time and it weighs heavily on him with hurt.  Another is Heredity – Passed On/Ufuzo Liyadlulela, which demonstrates complex family relations. The inscription describes how his work and talent was despised in his father’s house, yet it is a gift that he had inherited from within the family roots and ancestry – a spiritually nurtured talent.

“ My depiction draws its content from religious, political, traditional practices, heritage, customs and aspects of the dynamics of life in general. These impulses draw their character from love, anger, hate, pain, resolve and happiness. Each work, as it is in process towards completion, is modelled with the spiritual powers that can be experienced by me (the artist). The work heals, endows and interacts with my mental, physical and emotional state of wellbeing,” says Luthuli.

Gita Saghal,  film director and women’s rights activist commented:

the shape, detail and emotion of Sbonelo’s pots all seem to be fused together.

Bridget Thompson, director and curator at Art and Ubuntu Trust says: “The Arts and Ubuntu Trust’s Travelling Arts Institute is honored to present Luthuli’s beautiful pots, with their messages, which are inspired by African indigenous visual heritage, have a contemporary dimension, and indicate a future with great possibilities for all our people.”

Arts and Ubuntu Trust is proud to launch ceramicist S’bonelo Tau Luthuli’s collection SONG OF THE SOIL – CERAMIC WORKS on 4 May 2016 at the Constitutional Hill’s Women’s Prison at 6pm. Luthuli’s exhibition which will run until 29 May 2016, was made possible with sponsorship from The Department of Arts and Culture’s Mzansi Golden Economy Fund.

Freedom Day Celebration

sol plaatjies

S’bonelo Tau Luthuli exhibiting at 6 Spin Street 5-19 November

Ceramicist S’bonelo Tau Luthuli’s work Ihubo Lengabadi (Song of the Soil) is presented for a limited exhibition period, opening on First Thursday.

Luthuli works in the tradition of the great ceramic artist Nesta Nala and takes inspiration from her, as well as Clive Sithole and Ian Garrett. Standing on the shoulders of these great South African artists Luthuli takes pot making to a number of levels – spiritual and meditative, intellectual and philosophical – applying his personal journey as the pivot and pen of his narrative.

He skilfully uses every pot he produces to scribe a message, which he hopes reflects meaning in life. Their messages are inspired by African indigenous visual heritage, while demonstrating a progressive contemporary dimension, as well as showing a future with great possibilities.

The artist’s statement, an overview, plus detail for every pot, was written in isiZulu by S’bonelo Tau Luthuli and then translated into English by Sokhaya Charles Nkosi – all of which gives access to a rich, painful, but ultimately inspiring worldview and life experience.


6 Spin Street Restaurant is situated in a beautiful Sir Herbert Baker building facing historic Church Square. In addition to its primary restaurant activity, 6 Spin Street frequently functions as an event and gallery space, with solo and group shows. It operated as the Festival Centre for Infecting The City public arts festival for the second year running in March 2014. In 2012 a comprehensive exhibition of the works of Storm Thorgerson was held. The New Black & White Photography exhibition was a popular addition to East City Late (Open Thursday) and October 2014 marked the return of Cape Town Month of Photography (MoP6).


6 Spin Street (Church Square / one block south of Adderley Street)

Listen to a podcast with KayaFM and Bridget Thompson

Following the recent death of South African artist, Wonga Mancoba, Mike Siluma from the Karibu show on KayaFM 95.9 speaks about the legacy of his father, the avant-garde artist, Ernest Mancoba with Bridget Thompson director of Art and Ubuntu Trust.

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Our dear friend, Wonga Mancoba passed away in Paris on 12 February 2015.

MEDIA RELEASE                                               27 February 2015


Artist Wonga Mancoba, has passed away  in Paris after a long battle with his health. Wonga in his late 60s, was born to painter, sculptor and thinker Ernest Mancoba and his wife Danish sculptor, Sonja Ferlov, in Paris in the attic of famous Swiss sculptor Giacometti. He would follow in his parents footsteps and become a refined painter whose body of work is  inspired by the African paradigm, nuance, and idiom.

Wonga, although the son of a South African painter and intellectual, was not able to visit South Africa for the first 50 years of his life. He visited with his father, Ernest, for the first time in 1994. This and subsequent visits had a remarkable impact on his artistic expression. He had already tackled the theme of slavery in black and white but now his themes were visibly anchored on indigenous knowledge and alive with colour. His subject matter, Sophiatown; ‘Ghost’ Areas Act and Taxis was inspired by his trips to the continent before his illness.

Before leaving South Africa in 1938, Ernest had won significant prizes for his art. He went to Paris to expand his knowledge, there he met a Danish sculptor Sonja Ferlov, married her and she birth to their only child, Wonga. Ernest was interned by the Nazis during the second world war which he survived.

The small family tried to come back to South Africa after the war but the Smuts government refused to allow Mancoba to bring his European wife to South Africa. He became stateless and so did she.They eked out a living for a few years in Denmark, and were active in the significant art movement CoBrA but their small son – Wonga – was the subject of racism there. They returned to France where a friend, Ms Penso, lent them a small rural cottage.

Ernest often did farm labouring work to help them survive but they both managed to continue to produce remarkable art. In 1961 they were given French citizenship, moved to Paris to a small shop/studio where they continued to produce remarkable art. In 1984 Sonja passed away.

Shortly after a South African art historian, Elza Miles, saw a work of Ernest’s on a CoBrA exhibition in Paris and identified the name as South African, traced Mancoba, found him and managed to bring him back to South Africa in 1994 for a retrospective exhibition. It was his first visit in 56 years. He was 90 years old and was accompanied by Wonga. Ernest passed away at the age of 98 in 2002.  Wonga was then active in supporting efforts in South Africa to understand his fathers significant artistic and intellectual legacy.

Over a year ago, Wonga, now in his 60s, had a series of small strokes and  was hospitalized in Paris for many months. He was cared for by long standing friends of the family,  Alain Spielmann, Charley Chevalier, Corinne Penso and Elske Miles Elza’s daughter amongst others. Sadly on February 12th he passed away. Wonga was single and had no children. He is survived by his cousins, Zodwa Mkalipe and Ntando Mancoba, who live in Soweto and Matatiele, respectively.

Penny Mkalipe, the family representative and Wonga’s niece said: “It was with sadness to hear about our uncle and brother’s passing. We wish to thank all the support people have shown during this time of our bereavement. Two family representatives will be traveling to Paris, France to participate in funeral arrangements. The funeral and memorial service will be held in Paris to honour his life, at 2pm on Monday at Pere Lachaise. Thereafter, the family representatives will bring his ashes to South Africa, where he will be laid to rest with his father, Ernest Mancoba, and grandparents, in  Benoni,”

Prepared by:  Phindile Xaba on behalf of Arts and Ubuntu Trust


Peter Clarke RIP

Our dear friend and colleague at the Arts & Ubuntu Trust, Peter Clarke passed away earlier this year. We put together a set of posters for his memorial  held at the National Gallery in July as a tribute to a few of the moments in his life that we collaborated with him.

The Art & Ubuntu Trust return from a successful time in the Northern Cape!

This April / May, the Arts & Ubuntu Trust took the Ernest Mancoba Educational Poster Project  Exhibition and The South African Arts Past and Present Project to Kimberley. The opening of the exhibition was hosted by the William Humphreys Gallery. And the ‘From Idea to Screen’ Workshop was held at the Mayibuye Art Centre in Galeshewe Township, Kimberley. Read more

The Art and Ubuntu Trust and Emthonjeni Arts Center Unite!

The Arts and Ubuntu trust spent an amazing 5 days at the Emthonjeni Art centre running the training workshop ‘The Creative Journey: From Idea to Screen’ as part of the South African Arts Past and Present Project.

They also opened an exhibition of photographs documenting the journey that was the Ernest Mancoba Educational Poster Project which took place nationally in 2010 / 2011.


See Emthonjeni’s facebook page for some details as well as our Project section.