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SBONELO “SMALL” HLENGWA (article first published : 2003-06-16)

The BAT Centre will host an exhibition by Sbonelo 'Small' Hlengwa of sugar-based sculpture and handmade frames from June 19.

Sbonelo, a resident artist with his own studio at the BAT Centre, is an up-and-coming talent with an innovative approach to sculpture. He has hit on a novel method of producing beautifully detailed animal sculptures using sugar as a base material. His artworks are proving exceptionally popular with overseas collectors.

Sbonelo's sculptures are made using a sugar/resin mix, which hardens and is not moisture permeable as is most sugar craft. Sbonelo fashions miniature animals and birds of great delicacy which he then gives a detailed, naturalistic paint treatment. The final stage of the process involves mounting his creations in handmade box frames, a skill he was taught by the late Mozambican artist, Marlino Kuco. The frames are made from discarded wooden pallets which are carved and inlaid with a range of materials from bamboo to palm fronds and tree bark.

"I take my inspiration from nature, and am constantly amazed by its variety," says Sbonelo.

Born in Umlazi, Sbonelo was encouraged from infancy by his mother who saw a future for her son despite the lack of art tuition at the schools of the time. His early source of inspiration was the late artist Sthembiso Shongwe. Sbonelo's commissions include the framing of paintings of members of the Legislature.

This is Sbonelo's first solo exhibition. It will be opened at 18h00 on June 19 by artSMart Editor Caroline Smart (also Editor of D'ARTS Magazine) and will run in the BAT Centre’s Democratic Gallery until July 18.

More information from Nonto Ntombela, BAT Gallery Assistant Curator, on 031 332 0451.




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