October 2017

StArt @ The Wolfshack

view the catalogue online

Laimi Mbangula’s artistic practice has formed out of her lived experience, choosing to take motifs from the tools and utensils “we have always used in our homesteads and villages”. Her sense of identity is deeply rooted in these objects;  “When I think about the fact that these items are becoming extinct I feel distressed, and a sense of loss”. This fear of loss is counterbalanced in the works themselves where we are presented with abundance. The shapes and forms that are so important to the artist are stenciled in a repeat pattern asserting themselves over and over again. In this way they are re-inserted and re-inscribed as an inevitable part of life.

However, in this re-inscription they are also transformed, actions and object of utility become formal entities abstracted and then absorbed into the fabric. Mbangula says that “textiles and clothing are also a very important element in our home life”. The medium of textiles, as well as the imagery stencilled on to them, both show an investigation into domestic spaces, activities and objects. In the works Thrashing Mahangu and Collecting Water Mbangula depicts domestic activities that are typically carried out by women. For the work Inside the Room Mbangula has taken inspiration from shapes that are commonly drawn onto the upper part (how woods are arranged) of homes in the north of Namibia.

The age-old art of decorating one's home is staggeringly apparent on traditional Ndebele houses in South Africa. In this body of work Mbangula looked further afield researching and borrowing from these patterns too. By expanding beyond her personal scope Mbangula looks to the forms and shapes that occupy domestic spaces in other parts of the world. In many ways this exploration acknowledges the universality of what it means to decorate and embellish something that is precious and of great value. However, Mbangula’s work is inevitably very personal as well. The laborious process of cutting and printing stencils by hand means that every textile piece that Mbangula creates is entirely unique and original.
This careful and considered expansion reflects the artist’s personal growth. Mbangula is at the beginning of what looks to be a very successful career. Having graduated from the College of the Arts in 2016 Mbangula is currently furthering her studies at the University of Namibia. Mbangula was born in 1988 in Eenhana. She has participated in a number of group exhibitions since 2013. 'Inside the Room' is Mbangula’s first solo exhibtion.