|THANSANQUA (THAMI) EDDIE KITTY
|Born 1967 in Transkei
One day when Thami visited the gallery we sat down and I questioned Thami on the influences of his work. He started to talk of his childhood, a playful twinkle came into his eye, as he talked about the freedom of going down to the river to collect clay to make animals. He described a rural area where there were no toys so children needed to fall back on their ingenuity to make animals out of clay and discarded bones.
He explained that children made puppets out of found treasures of bones, clay and wood. They used their imagination to bring the puppets to life and stories grew as they played. As he has grown older Thami has managed to keep that childlike play alive and it sparkles in his eyes when he talks about his work. Kitty grew up in Machibini near Lady Frere and he spent his days looking after cattle and making things inbetween. At age 10 he moved to Khayelitsha and attended Andile Primary School in New Crossroads. He recalls the teachers encouraged him when they saw his creative talent. “I felt very powerful and good inside drawing” the artist discovered.
In 1988 he left school and joined CAP in Woodstock. He was in the teenage drawing class taught by Lucy Alexander. In 1990 he exhibited his wooden sculptures with Mario Sickel and Ricky Dyaloyi. In this exhibition he uses found wood and let the formal aspects of the wood dictate the subject.
Thami now works where he can find space. His work deals predominantly with animals. In some works animals merge into humans and so inhabit a mythological space. His works shows a close observation of the subject with his precise and detailed chisel work.
Nathalie Bucher in her article in The Cape Time March 21, 2012 observes there is a soulfulness and a silence which always seems to emerge as he dialogues with the wood. Other carvers produce results quicker than Thami, but speed usually eliminates the spirit that is always present in Thami’s work, whether it is a stand-alone sculpture or a puppet.
Attended the Luhlaza High School where he completed Standard 7 in 1989.
excerpts FROM THE TALL HORSE THEATRE PROGRAMME:
“Tall Horse is a product of collaboration of artists from diverse cultures – Malian, South African, Béninoise/French, American and English. It is a story of collaboration among Malian, French, Egyptian and Italian individuals, slaves and kings, scientists and tomb robbers, to bring an exotic, regal and exceedingly rare gift to Enlightenment-Era France. Like the story’s principal characters, we ended up somewhere other than we had imagined we were going to at the outset of the journey. But the road from there to here, like that taken by the Malian former slave and the French scientist, was also one of discovery.”
The producer, Basil Jones noted
“We have been inspired by the Bamana and Bozo puppetry traditions of Mali since our period in Botswana when my partner, Adrian Kohler, brought a Malian puppet back from a buying trip to Johannesburg and I was subsequently involved in the acquisition of a collection of puppets from Mali for the National Museum and Art Gallery. This puppetry tradition is important for world puppetry in that it is one of the few still very much part of village life, entertainment and rites of transition. Not only that, but the actual puppets themselves are created within an extremely rich sculptural tradition.”
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