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Sebidi, Mmakgabo Helen ( 1943 - ) : ASSOCIATED ARTISTS : Everard Read Cape Town

Helen Sebidi

Mmakgabo Mapula Helen Sebidi was born in 1943 in Marapyane (Skilpadfontein), in the Hammanskraal area of the Northern Transvaal.

Her first teacher of art was her grandmother, a traditional artist who passed on to her granddaughter the vernacular aesthetic which has such a strong presence in Sebidi’s work. They lived a rural life, cultivating crops, making mud they used to construct walls and floors and which they then decorated. They also made and decorated calabashes. From her own mother she learnt dressmaking and embroidery. Helen stresses the importance of acquiring these traditional skills in order to be an artist versed in a vital culture.

Biography


1959
Left Khamane School after completing standard 6 and went to seek work in Johannesburg.
1960s
Worked in domestic service where she learnt European-style cooking, and practiced dressmaking as well.
1970-73
Studied informally with John Koenakeefe Mohl.
1975
Returned to Marapyaane in March to care for her grandmother who died in 1981.Continued to paint and to visit Mohl in Johannesburg
1977
First exhibited at Artists under the Sun, Joubert Park.
1984
Commuted between Marapyane and Johannesburg
1985
Began improving her clay technique at Katlehong Art Centre. Became interested in pottery - making pots and sculpting and taught these skills to children at the centre
1986-87
Worked at the Johannesburg Art Foundation, improving under the guidance of Bill Ainslie and others, taught at the Alexandra Art Centre..
1987-88
Participated in the Khula Udweba Art teachers´ project organized at FUNDA by the African Institute of Art
1988
Awarded a Fullbright scholarship to travel to the U.S.
1988-89
Visited the United States and Europe, addressed many different centres, worked at the Millay for the Arts, Austerlitz, New York.
1990
Toured South Africa and Namibia. Spent two months in the United Kingdom
Visited Baltimore in the USA
1991
Visited Sweden.
1993
Visited Amsterdam, Holland
1994
Visited Lisbon
1995
Visited Chile
Group exhibition and visit by invitation to City Gallery, Atlanta, Georgia
1998
Represented South Africa at the Lisbon Expo
1998
World Wide Workshop and Exhibition, Melbourne, Australia