Serving Msunduzi through the Visual Arts
Michael Zondi on Edendale Excels - 7 February to 22 June 2008
Michael Zondi carved wooden sculptures using images of his family members to illustrate socio-political conditions in South Africa. Like many of his peers, he often used religious and secular themes to illustrate the effects of Apartheid on South African communities. He taught at the Edendale Technical High School during the late fifties. His friendship with Dr. Wolfgang Bodenstein from Applesbosch near New Hanover and travels in South Africa and abroad influenced his techniques and themes.
Timeline - Michael Gagashe Zondi (10 March 1926 - 15 March 2008)
- 1926: Born in Ngome, near Keates Drift, KwaZulu-Natal, to David Zondi and Eva Ngubane.
- 1932-35: Attended Mtulwa Primary School (Keates Drift)
- 1937-1939: Attended Hermansburg Higher Primary (Grey town)
Moved to Pietermaritzburg and attended Henryville Primary, Edendale Primary and Caluza Higher Primary, Edendale
- 1940: Left Pietermaritzburg to study in KwaMaphumulo (Kranskop) at Ntunjambili High School and completed standard seven. He also received sponsorship from Lutheran priest Gunner Helander to study woodwork at Dundee Industrial Bantu School. After completing his studies he worked as a cabinet maker for Einar Andreas Magni (Swedish architect).
- 1952-1956: Taught woodwork at Dundee Trade School, where he worked with Lazarus Shezi who inspired him to do small wooden sculptures and later taught woodwork at the Edendale Vocational Training School in Pietermaritzburg. Through private studies managed to complete his Matric and also obtained his builders and construction certificates.
- 1963-1965: Appointed at Applesbosch Mission as an estates manager and supervisor for grounds maintenance. He designed and built the mission’s hospital chapel and did his first crucifix figure to decorate the chapel in blackwood. A life-long friendship developed between him and Dr. Wolfgang Bodenstein (Superintendent of the hospital).
- 1964-1967: Was appointed promoter of Arts and Culture by the Native Education Department.
- 1965: First solo exhibition in Durban Art Gallery. Became the second black artist to exhibit solo at Durban Art Gallery after Eric Ngcobo.
- 1966: Participated in the Venice Biennale.
- 1967-1972: He worked for the Department of Information. The Bodensteins relocated to Durban (Montclair) where he set up a studio at their garage. Later they moved to Pretoria. By this time he was a full-time artist and held sculpture classes where he taught wood and stone sculpture. In the same year he had his second solo exhibition in Pretoria.
- 1977: Participated in an exhibition in Paris; L'Homme et le Bois (man and wood). He also visited the Musée Rodin. Auguste Rodin and Michelangelo were two sculptors he regarded as having a great influence on his work. In Paris he had a sculpture competition with a French sculptor, Fancelli, to see who would first finish a bust copy of the other. Zondi won and exchanged sculptures with Fancelli.
- 1980s: He participated in a number of group exhibitions including The Neglected Tradition in Johannesburg Art Gallery. He accepted various private commissions.
- 1992: He suffered a stroke that left him paralyzed and unable to work.
- 2004: Third solo exhibition at the Tatham Art Gallery in fulfillment of a Masters degree curated by Kirsten Nieser.
- 2007: Suffered another stroke and was cared for at his Pietermaritzburg residence.
- 2008: He passed away on 15 March 2008.
- Fort Hare University
- South African National Gallery, Cape Town
- Durban Art Gallery
- Johannesburg Art Gallery
- Private collectors (local and overseas)
- Tatham Art Gallery