IN: Inspiration

QnA with sculptor Sonwabiso Ngcai

We chat to 2017 PPC Imaginarium Sculpture Runner-up, Sonwabiso Ngcai


What was your reaction when you were awarded the runner-up prize in Sculpture category?

It was overwhelming and an unbelievable moment. I could feel my heart beating and it felt as though it was the size of my whole chest.

Tell us a bit about yourself. What did you study?

I am from Buntingville, a rural village outside a small town called Ngqeleni, near Mthatha. I completed both my Diploma and B-Tech degree at Walter Sisulu University where I graduated cum laude respectively. In 2015, I obtained my Masters in Fine Art from the Vaal University of Technology. I specialise in ceramics, sculptural installations and printmaking. I currently lecture in the Visual Art Department at Walter Sisulu University.

What made you enter the competition?

After recognising my artistic abilities, I made a vow to myself that I would participate in art competitions on an annual basis. However, of the competitions I entered, I’ve only ever reached the top 100. The PPC Imaginarium Awards came along just at the right time. I was better prepared, both conceptually and technically.

What was your experience of the competition?

The competition was exciting, challenging and daunting at times. I was thrilled by the fact I had finally entered one of South Africa’s most prestigious art competitions.

What inspired your concept?

My work looks at stereotypes and traditional conventions associated with the birth, life and death of twins in Xhosa culture. In most cultures, many myths, philosophies and rituals surround the birth, life and death of twins, and this is also observed within my own Xhosa culture. “Emweka” depicts the act of appeasing the ancestors. It is traditional practice that whenever twins visit the sea they are required to pay a tariff, or entrance fee, in the form of silver coins in exchange for admission and safekeeping.

What insights or advice do you have for those entering the 2018 awards?

My advice is that they need to start working immediately on their conceptual ideas, have a good understanding of the material, be aware of timeframes, and keep up with communications and talks.

What would you like to see more of in the art and design sector of South Africa?

I think when observing the socio-economic challenges that face young black South Africans, it is imperative that more platforms, such as this one, are created to elevate and advertise the enormous artistic talent in this country. Mentorship and support should be widely encouraged to enable artists to fulfil their creative aspirations.

Should anyone want to view or purchase your designs, how can they contact you?

I can be contacted on Facebook (Sonwabiso Ngcai) and via email at



Related Articles