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Photographer's Note

The Stone Garden of Nukain Mabuza.

Internationally recognised as one of the two most important pieces of outsider art in South Africa (I have a photo in my portfolio of the other, more famous site: Helen Martin's Owl House). Nukain Mabuza was a farm worker, originally from Mocambique, who worked in South Africa during the depths of apartheid. Most of his disposable income was spent on paints with which he decorated the hillside on which his house was situated. The earlier paintings used white paint, which was all he could afford, but later works were in colour after donations of 'expired' paints from a local hardware company. Mabuza started his Flower Garden in the mid- sixties (possibly 1965) and painted regularly and continuously until his death in 1981.

The site is fading quite significantly since his death, and is crying out for some restoration. Until recently it has been very little known even to artistically knowledgeable South Africans, but hopefully that is starting to change: Athol Fugard, a famous playright (who also wrote a play about Helen Martins and the Owl House entitled The Road to Mecca) has recently written a play about Nukain Mabuza and his garden (The Painted Rocks at Revolver Creek) which should raise the profile quite significantly. I quite liked the following extract from an interview with Fugard by the New York Times:

In the new play, Mr. Fugard’s Mabuza faces one last undecorated rock, and falters. “There must come a point in an artist’s life when you have to confront the possibility that it is all over,” Mr. Fugard said. “As the wonderful Greek writer [Nikos] Kazantzakis said, you can close your workshop and put away the tools. I thought, this wonderful virginal rock is his last painting, and maybe this is my last play.”

pajaran, danos, ikeharel, sacimar, clic, delpeoples has marked this note useful

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Additional Photos by Iain Pearson (iainsp) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 482 W: 0 N: 698] (3298)
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