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Mxolisi Patrick Holo Mtshamba
Born on 9th February 1948

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Patrick Holo grew up in Cape Town completing his standard nine at Langabuya High School in 1969.

His father, Jo Holo was a pianist and one of the 'Folk Quartet' consisting of Jo Holo, Jo Max, Schonana and Jo Qungu. Patrick couldn't play, but his brother Sydney was a member, of a skiffle band in 1974. Patrick recalls that many an evening he joined the family at the supper table where they would sing Kwela songs. The jazz and pennywhistle musicians loved his father's house.

As a child he remembers making toys with wire - cars with polish-tin wheels and tires made from old bicycle wheel tubes. The cars had axles and could be steered with a long hand-held wire. He constructed busses and trains from wire and tinfoil.

Patrick was awarded a scholarship by the Italian Consulate to study in Perugia for a year. He particularly remembers visiting the grave of St. Francis in Assisi, Bologna, Florence (loved the 'blue water in Florence') and Venice (What a lovely place!). From Perugia he travelled to Rome where he stayed in the home of Nicolo Baldo.
1975 - 76
Joined the Community Arts Project in Woodstock. Patrick's work of this period conveyed the political sentiments of the struggle against the apartheid policies of the ruling party. Other 'Resistance Artists' working at CAP at the time were Bongani Shangi and Hamilton Budaza. They shared resources exploring the sculpture and graphics techniques. Patrick remembers with pride the sculpture he did at this time.
Became a full time artist.
Worked as a machine operator for Paarl Textiles.
1971 - 72
Worked at the Paarl Branch of OK Bazaars.

1978 -1980
Patrick taught graphics and sculpture at Nyanga Art Centre. There were eight separate workshops at the Nyanga Art Centre and some of the courses offered were glass blowing, pottery and graphic art.


The report of the Theron commission on coloured people was tabled. Secondary school children march into Soweto in a massive protest against the use of Afrikaans in schools, and hundreds are killed in violence. Schools unrest spreads to the Western Cape. First members of 'The Class of '76' leave South Africa for training in armed resistance.

Was a year marked by escalating unrest in the Cape as the hostile Frontline States and broadening international campaign had become major problems for the South African Government.

In this year Patrick met Cecil Skotnes.

Cecil Skotnes had directed the Polly Street Art Centre the 1950's and 1960's. Situated in downtown Johannesburg, Polly Street Art Centre provided guidance, basic materials, equipment and a place to work. Sculptor Sydney Kumalo's sell-out exhibition at the centre proved that gifted black artists could make a living from art.

Encouraged by Cecil Skotnes, Patrick and Sydney Holo approached the Divisional Council requesting the use of an old farmhouse in Nyanga to give art classes to children. Permission was granted and this became the Nyanga Art Centre. Patrick taught graphics and sculpture. Cecil Skotnes visited and mentored the project although it became increasingly unsafe to visit Nyanga. Cecil stressed a professional approach, which became a hallmark of the artists trained at this centre. Billy Mandindi was one.

1982 - 83
Patrick returned to Cape Town to his workshop at Nyanga Art Centre. 'There were no guys and the place was run down. However we began to study and work together again'. Patrick taught sculpture in terracotta, plaster of Paris and white cement as well as graphic techniques such as linocut. Also teaching at Nyanga at this period were Patrick's brother Sydney and Velile Soha who trained at Rorkes Drift. Their aim was to motivate the children and pass on the skills they had acquired.

Despite generous bequests the centre was perennially short of funds. In 1989 Patrick mentions that Mteto Msongwana was chairman of the art centre and Mr. R.A. Wilson was the accountant. Patrick was working with his brother Sydney and Velile Soha. Deneth Giladile was teaching music to the children. It was not long before Patrick was working alone.

By 1990 everyone had left the Nyanga Art Centre. The centre was destroyed by vandalism and Patrick was left with no place to work.


Patrick found an outlet for his linocuts selling in St. Georges Street Mall. For R 80 a month he obtained a hawkers license from the Traffic Department. His fortunes fluctuated - at times he did well but occasionally he could not afford ink and paper. He also struggled with TB for nearly ten years, between 1991- 2000 Patrick did very little work.

Patrick was commissioned by Truworths to do two Murals.

Patrick was approached by Zolile Calana from Kwela Books to make illustrations for the Xhosa proverbs. The charm and simplicity of these works led to an invitation to exhibit some of them at The Cape Gallery.


Impressions, group exhibition at The Cape Gallery
Review, group exhibition at The Cape Gallery

Along the way, group exhibition at The Cape Gallery

Telling our story; group exhibition at The Cape Gallery

Siyakubona, group exhibition at The Cape Gallery
Social Synergy, group exhibition at The Cape Gallery

Participated in the group exhibition “Encompass” at the Cape Gallery

The Cape Gallery - 'cameo exhibition' within the context of a larger exhibition entitled 'Movement' arranged at the request of Herma Williams, assistant provost of Gordon, USA.

A second exhibition was planned at The Baxter Theatre. Curated by Shirley Kantor. Patrick, Sydney and Velile showed their work.

Cecil Skotnes suggested a five-person exhibition: Patrick and Sydney Holo, Hamilton Budaza, Wizard, Lionel Abrahams. The intention was to promote these artists whose work was specifically in 'Cape style'. Lucy Alexander also offered her help. Cecil suggested that they should invite six artists from Johannesburg who had trained at the Polly Street Centre: Sydney Kumalo, Ezrahein, Mtsoso, and Cepral. The exhibition was held at The Gowlett Gallery and was very successful, with work bought by The National Gallery.


A branch of the Namibian Catholic Church also commissioned a station of the cross.

The Catholic Fathers of the St. Mary's Church in Nyanga commissioned the seven Stations of the Cross and a big figure of Jesus Christ from Patrick.

Illustration for 'I Cry Justice' by Dr. John de Cruce

Dr van der Merwe, Kwela Books
Worldwide tourists purchasing work off St Georges St Mall and The Cape Gallery.

Patrick Holo
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Title: David & Goliath 2/50
Size: 29 x 39 cm
Media: Linocut
Price: R 1 900 Framed

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