Wood sculptures of Right Mukore and Mthobeli Aaron Bakana at the Museum
From mid-September 2021, the UCT Irma Stern Museum will host works by sculptor Right Mukore and crafter Mthobeli Aaron Bakana. This project is realised in collaboration with the Montebello Design Centre in Cape Town. Right and Aaron will be showing an oft-changing selection of work in the museum’s Secret Garden for the coming months.
Right Mukore studied art at Konimara School of Art in Zimbabwe and now works from Montebello Design Centre. Right uses power tools and hand-carving to create wood sculptures from felled trees – some of which are massive in size. The sculptures seem to be almost mystical beings – part animal, part human, and part still tree. The ‘tree-ness’ of the sculptures is emphasised by the minimal interventions Right makes so that the bark and shape of branches are still evident. For Right, each tree has its own soul, its own essence or character, and he sees his sculptural work as bringing this character to the fore. Similarly to Aaron’s ‘Nests’, Right’s ‘Tree’ allows visitors to enter the trunk of a tree. Doing so creates a poignant sense of being embraced and shielded by the gnarly old wood. Right’s work has been incorporated in many public sculpture parks and areas, such as the Cape Town Green Point Urban Park and Century City precinct.
Mthobeli Aaron Bakana learnt his craft of weaving at Montebello, creating garden screens out of wattle. His childhood fascination with birds inspired him to explore beyond functional screens. Aaron’s nest sculptures hark directly back to this early inspiration of watching birds weave nests in his birthplace of the Eastern Cape. Aaron’s ‘Nests’ are playful and comforting spaces, with openings that let the person in the sculpture observe their surroundings, whilst in turn being observed by viewers outside the nest. Aaron uses Port Jackson Wattle wood to create his nests – an alien tree species that depletes the Western Cape’s water table. Aaron works at Montebello Design Centre in Newlands, Cape Town, and his work grew out of a Montebello initiative that linked alien tree eradication with job creation. Aaron’s craft is exhibited at numerous venues such as Tokara and Kleinood wine estates in the Cape Winelands and the Green Point Urban Park in Cape Town.
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