UFH Fine Art student’s women appreciation artwork “Imbokodo” displayed in museum art collection

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The artwork of a UFH final-year Fine Arts Honours student, Siphosethu Plam titled “Imbokodo” is among a collection of art pieces that are currently on display at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan Art Museum in Gqeberha.

Made out of clay, the sculpture depicts a bust of a woman with the words: “Appreciate Women” and “Stop killing our women” engraved on it.

The title, Imbokodo which means “a rock” is often used in the saying “Wathint' abafazi, wathint' imbokodo” meaning you strike a woman, you strike a rock.

The Nelson Mandela Metropolitan Art Museum is the custodian of over 800 artworks. Plam’s piece was selected after the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality, The Red Location Art Gallery and the Museum for Eastern Cape Artists made a call to artists to submit their work for consideration to be part of the City's Art Collection.

The call is made annually in support of local artists.

Over 100 Artists responded to the call and out of 30 shortlisted, 14 were selected and Plam was one of the Artists whose pieces were purchased by the museum.

The 25-year-old from Motherwell in Gqeberha was born third of three children raised by a single grandmother. He says the sculpture is inspired by the strength shown by women in the face of many hardships they are subjected to.

“Growing up was very difficult and we did not have everything we wanted but my grandmother ensured we had everything we needed.  She was and is still our rock.”

Plam says the sculpture also seeks to draw attention to the scourge of gender-based violence and femicide. “The rate and manner in which women are killed almost every day is frightening. With this sculpture, I want to lay bare the scars of GBV and femicide and also make a plea for women to be appreciated.”

In 2021, Statistics South Africa released a report on Crimes Against Women in South Africa which indicated that one in five women (21%) had experienced physical violence by a partner.

“As a man and being an Artists I am saddened and angered by the tragedy of femicide in our townships where it has become a norm for women to be abused verbally, emotionally, sexually, or physically and eventually, being killed. I am fighting that mentality of: ‘It doesn’t concern me’ it concerns all of us.”

The young Artist who has previously displayed his work at various art galleries in Gqeberha and at the De Beers Art Gallery on the University's Alice Campus says his sculptures are inspired by the work of the late Hendry Moore, one of the most significant British Artists of the twentieth century.