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By Elsibe Loubser

A brief encounter with the art of mosaics. And a fond farewell, for now.

The Eye by Marcelino MThe Eye, mosaic by Marcelino Manhula

“Poetry emboldens the soul to accept mystery”. The character John Keats said that, in the movie Bright Star.

That is one of my all-time fave quotes, which I’ve used in many workshops on the topic that I love: Creativity.

Poetry is not only written. You could say that, metaphorically speaking, there is a bit of poetry in all types of beauty.

Of course you’ve been there: You love a sunset but you can’t say why. You like a poem but don’t “get it”.

Or as an artist you make something; it was just a process, an unfolding event, perhaps it came about through intuition or luck or mistake – or perhaps you were guided. You stand back from the finished work and wonder how it happened.

Perhaps people get your work, perhaps they even love it, and perhaps you still don’t really know why or how it happened.

These are the thoughts that were going through my mind a few weeks ago when I bumped into someone who confirmed the feeling. His name is Marcelino Manhula and he makes beautiful ceramic artwork. It was the opening of a group exhibition titled Shards, evoking fractured beauty and dappled light. We stood in front of his work and he said to me: “I don’t know how it came about. I can’t recall how I made that. But now these works are here on the wall and almost say to me – ‘look at us, look what you’ve done!’.” He laughed at himself. “Almost as though a muse had helped you?” I asked. “Yes,” he said.

Marcelino at his work titled The EyeMarcelino Manhula at his work titled The Eye, showing at the Breytenbach Gallery.

Marcelino went on to tell me that he sometimes uses photography in his creative process, amalgamating visual details from various shots.

Photography is merely his tool and perhaps gives a glimpse into how he achieves the layered end-result in his mosaics. He also interviews his subjects; their stories inform his work. He went on to tell me about the four women of Mozambique, their town, their daily habits, their friendship, their individual characters. Here is one of the women:

IBU Woman 2 by Marcelino

IBU Woman 2, by Marcelino Manhula

Marcelino Manhula, who trained at Spier to achieve world-class mosaic skills, is well-known in the Cape Town art scene. His natural talent is exceptional and the emotion in the work is tactile. He has exhibited in Italy and New York, and it’s really worth looking at more of his work on his website, here:

The jaunty yet stark gaze in his work titled The Eye reminded me of a self-portrait by Egon Schiele from 1910:

Egon Schiele self portrait 1910

Beyond the curtainBeyond the Curtain by Marcelino Manhula

I liked Marcelino’s work so much; I decided I wouldn’t ask too much about it.

Now you might think that is a strange thing for a journalist to do, right? But as an art lover and fellow creator, sometimes you have to serve your own imagination.

We all need to be mesmerized:

“I realised it for the first time in my life: there is nothing but mystery in the world, how it hides behind the fabric of our poor, browbeat days, shining brightly, and we don’t even know it.” Sue Monk Kidd in The Secret Life of Bees.

Smiling At his work title the ballerina

 Marcelino at his work titled The Ballerina.

Moment of humour


Thanks for following this blog. We have interviewed many fine artists, writers and fashion experts. Promotion has been our key mission.

Not only have we promoted other media brands – we have promoted people into the publishing industry by giving them work here at HSSS.

By writing for HSSS, many student or novice writers and photographers have furthered their careers by using this site as a platform, a starting point. You could say that HSSS has been their springboard. In this way we have achieved our objective. Everyone needs to be promoted from time to time.

Publishing aside, many of our interview candidates go on to create and inspire. You will find them in magazines and newspapers, living their dreams.

Nou ja, fluit, fluit, my storie is uit. For now, the publisher and editor of HSSS (yours truly) will be taking a break from blogging here. (Time to get my hands dirty creating other things.) I only have one last request: I’d love to see an alternative idiomatic expression for the Afrikaans ‘n hupstoot gee. If you create it, please message me.

Thanks for reading our stories.

Elsibe tractor picPhoto by Chris Wait.




By Elsibe Loubser and Simbonile Mkwambi

Photos by Chris Wait or supplied

In a world where everything has been done, even innovators have to pattern themselves after something. Or do they? What is happening at fashion schools, with design awards, and at Cape Town’s design expo? … In this feature story we take a broad look at fashion and design on a hunt for the pattern that is not just a repeat.

design by Rochelle Unser

Design by Rochelle Unser

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