from FUTHI MBHELE in Durban
KwaZulu Natal Bureau
DURBAN, (CAJ News) – MPILONHLE Gumede recalls walking long distances to school or to fetch water, growing up in a rural area. Today, he has the arts and fashion worlds at his feet.
The 28-year-old from the small village of Mtunzini in the KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) province is a creative artist, performing artist and fashion designer inspired by African culture and heritage.
“My work tells African stories that we believe are the answers to our ancestor’s prayers,” he said in an exclusive interview.
“I am very vocal and vivid in all crafts. My work is to educate, restore and preserve an African legacy,” the multitalented, self-built creative added.
Currently based in Musgrave, Gumede also has an affinity for agriculture but it is in the creative sector where he has found his calling.
Best known as Mpilo M – the Creative Artist focuses on fashion, crafts, theatre, music as well as visual and fine arts.
His vision is to groom local talent and break into the international market.
“We already have most of our craftworks in the two biggest malls in Durban, namely The Pavilion and Oceans Mall,” Gumede said.
He is also mentioned having artworks in different well-known establishments, including The Society of The Arts (KZNSA) Gallery, The Station Collective, Ntelezi Msani Heritage Centre, Bean and Bistro Restaurant and Kamali Store, among others.
“Our vision is to get into all the local spaces and retail our artworks to our people and beyond,” Gumede said.
He mentions the highlights of his multifaceted vocation as the South Coast Bike Festival 2019, Durban Fashion Fair, Class of 2022 and the BuzzArt22 at KZNSA Gallery.
“People are receiving my craft very extremely well,” Gumede said.
“I now have over ten local establishments that trade my craft works in stores, restaurants and galleries.”
He is looking to the Africa Fashion International as well as Durban Business Fair 2023.
There is also the Hollywoodbets Durban July 2023.
“I have an amazing calendar of opportunities ahead. I am grabbing them all with both hands,” Gumede said.
His work will exclusively be showcased the First Fridays exhibition by the KZNSA Gallery, on March 5.
“The artist promises exciting spin offs,” the gallery stated.
“He will be showcasing 20-plus African-inspired looks through a fashion exhibition and 20 visual artworks on exhibition,” it added.
KZNSA Gallery lauds the upcoming show as “an experience of the greatness of Africa.”
Gumede has always been creative. From a young age, he would engage in practical projects in his community and at school.
“I come from a place where I had to walk almost two hours to school and fetch water from the rivers,” retold Gumede, whose Christian background and humble upbringing keeps him grounded.
“Till this day, my family cooks food from wood fire. It is my dream to change my home situation one day,” he said.
On the creative side, he forecasts growth for local artists in the next five years.
“I foresee international partnerships,” he said in the interview.
“I foresee our people being educated about who we are and where we come from. I foresee success, prosperity and a global change in the arts sector,” Gumede projected.
For the creatives to flourish, he appealed to South Africa to show more support to and appreciation for the sector.
“I see malls being built everyday but not even 10 percent of spaces are given to local artists to exhibit their crafts,” Gumede lamented.
– CAJ News