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UMCEBO TRUST (article first published : 2006-12-3)

The visionary Robin Opperman and his team of talented and dedicated crafters and art-makers which form the Umcebo Trust, work from their Pandora’s Box of a studio situated above artSPACE, 3 Millar Rd.

Umcebo is an isiZulu word meaning “treasure”. The Umcebo Trust is a public benefit non-profit organization. The Trust aims to offer an inclusive studio workspace particularly for people with special needs and other community members, to use and develop their artistic talents as a means of personal and creative development, as well as to generate income.

Umcebo Trust was established by Robin Opperman, and was born out of his work as a special needs art teacher for 13 years. Robin’s work with school students has provided a working model for Umcebo. This work has resulted in a strong working relationship with the community as well as various organizations both here and internationally.

At the moment they have impressive larger-than-life glass and beaded chandeliers made in particular by a remarkable young school-going Umlazi learner, Andile Hadebe, and his fellow crafters. They are distinctly Durban, fun and quirky while being more than grand and dramatic enough to hang in any self-respecting palace or chateau.

The crafters are also working on stylish décor items. They have created beaded buck heads made from wire and glass beads which creates an interesting twist on the traditional “trophy head” genre.

A range of koi fish is being made from bold coloured glass beads and wire frames. Caught in motion, the fish are splendid in their vibrancy while retaining the quirky gentle sense of humour and delight, distinctive to all of the studio’s work. They are also creating ruler-high bold beaded aloe plants in a variety of décor colours which sits comfortably on any executive desk.

A cosy little art trail is developing around the Windermere Rd area of Morningside – making an easy route for art lovers. Pop into the Crouse Art Gallery at 56 Adrain Rd, then head across the park to the Alliance Francaise which has an increasingly utilised gallery space. Then on down Churchill Road into Umgeni to see artSPACE and the Umcebo Trust studios situated alongside Waste Centre in Millar Road, off Umgeni Road. This route offers four very different and very engaging arts experiences in one city block.




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