The Artist at her recent exhibition at the University of Stellenbosch Art Museum
by Andries Loots - 6 April 2004
Regarding the history of art in South Africa and the people that played a major
role in establishing its unique character, three names
of the older generation woman artists, whom are still alive, dominates:
Mahlangu, Noria Mabasa and Helen Sebidi. These women
seen as crafters in the early part of their careers but now form part
of a prestigious group whose work is internationally acknowledged and sought after.
Noria Mabasa was born in 1938 in Xigalo in the Limpopo Province in South Africa. She is a self thought full-time artist since 1976. Her preferred mediums are clay which she obtaines from the local river in the Vuwani district in Venda where she currently lives. Noria is the only Venda woman that makes use of wood that she carves into monumental sculptures. Her work deals with traditional issues, especially those pertaining to women and also draws inspiration from her surroundings and outside experiences.
It all started in 1965. In Noria's own words: "I started because of a dream. It took a very long time, because I didn't understand it well. This was in 1965 and in 1974, I started the work". Working mainly in clay, Noria found recognition nationally and internationally in the 1980's for her pottery figures decorated with enamel paint.
Her clay work combines the figurative and the functional in a more earthy way; pots in the shape of the female body or characterized faces, demonstrate the command she has over the medium. Wood carving started in 1976 inspired by her dreams, an on-going experience that stretches beyond the psychology of the sub-conscious into the spiritual - the ancestral.
She was honored in 2003 by the President of South Africa for her role that she played in the arts.
Noria recently had a very successful exhibition at the University of Stellenbosch Art Museum where works representative of all the mediums she works in, were on display.
She has also participated in
various exhibitions locally and Internationally since 1985 and her work is
represented in major corporate as well as private collections worldwide:
Johannesburg Art Gallery
South African National Gallery, Cape Town
Standard Bank Gallery
University of Fort Hare, Ciskei
Pretoria Art Museum
University of Western Cape
University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg
Sandton Convention Centre
Netherlands, Belgium, USA