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Jeff Mwazha creates four metre Madiba sculpture for ABSA Museum

Wednesday, 01 August 2018   (0 Comments)
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CDI member Jeff Mwazha has developed a sculpture style using wire to create amazing lifelike animals – from rabbits to baboons, to life-size leopards – as well as human subjects. His latest commission, completed in July, was an incredible four metre Madiba sculpture for the ABSA Museum in Johannesburg.


Jeff started to make wire art at seven years old, making toys for himself and siblings. Originally from Harare in Zimbabwe, Mwazha moved to South Africa in 1998, first selling his work on the street side, but soon became known in the art world for wire portrait sculptures of Nelson Mandela. He went on to work as a lead artist of Streetwires; and has done commissions and won awards for his work over the years.


“I am sculptor, craftsman, and entrepreneur,” says Jeff, adding that he has transitioned over the past 25 years into more of a sculptor.


“By selling my products and supplying shops I really learnt a lot; it made me improve my products. Shops and galleries are always looking for new and quality products, and it helps you to become innovative.”


He credits the Craft and Design Institute for putting his name on the map as a sculptor when he was selected to be part of the CDI’s 10 Years of Democracy exhibition in 2004. FREEDOM [ten years] was an exhibition organised to celebrate ten years of democracy in South Africa.


“I got a lot of confidence from that, and it really made me go for life,” he says.


In addition, he also benefitted from an auction of a Mandela sculpture which went viral, gaining him exposure across the world via the media such as the BBC.


His commission for the ABSA Museum foyer this year is another feather in his cap, a hugely impressive sculptural piece that took four months to complete.


“ABSA got my contacts through another curator who was at the 10 Years of Democracy exhibition some 14 years ago –  the four-metre sculpture changed the way I work and the value of my art, and it’s something I’m very happy with.”


The next commission he’s working on is a sculpture of two children commissioned by Pridwin Preparatory school in Johannesburg. And he’s looking forward to many other growth opportunities.

He is also a longstanding participant at the Spier Craft Market.


“Spier is an area for expanding. There are lots of visitors from all over the world and I take the contact details of all my customers so that I can let them know when I come up with something new. I’m creating a network all over the world. Spier is a good area where we connect to everyone, it’s very motivating."

“Over the past two years I have started selling my sculptures throughout the year, with my best-selling product being the life size leopards – most of these are going to Germany. I have now trained four people locally to specialise in smaller products that we mass produce and have registered a new business, TJME Outsourcing, with them. Empowering others has long been a thread in Jeff’s work, and he’s trained over 100 others in local communities over the past two decades to help them generate income for themselves.


In November, he and Bongani Kumalo (also a CDI member) are going to participate in a Christmas market in Germany and he’s looking to go with a variety of leopards.


“I also did very well at the CDI shop at the Watershed at the V&A Waterfront last season, where my chicken-wire baboon sculptures are proving popular; I look forward to an even better this season at the CDI’s shop this year!”


Jeff Mwazha
084 802 3231


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