Now that we are getting back into our school rhythm it is time to share a few of the books that we have been reading together as part of our family school around the kitchen table.


This one, Explore Awesome South African Artists, is one we have been looking forward to reading for a long time. My kids were eyeing it for ages as it sat in my “back to school and not to be touched pile.” I am so glad we waited, it has been lovely and my kids are excited about exploring more local galleries this year to see if they can spot artists that they have learned about.

Explore Awesome South African Artists

At last we have a brilliant resource packed with South African artists. Cobi Labuscagne, we salute you for creating this fantastic resource for South Africans to read and enjoy and to learn about our local artists. We are reading our way through it slowly, spread by spread. The book features forty four contemporary artists, artists that you can see in galleries around South Africa.


The thing about homeschooling is that I learn just as much as my kids, and it is fabulous to recognise an artist’s work as you pass it by in a gallery. This book is a showcase of South African Art, which is a reflection of our culture. A lot of the art is politically inspired and has opened a lot of discussion with my teens… Did that really happen? How do they feel about it? Good questions and food for thought. Not all the art is a political statement, but all the art is a statement… and a reflection of the artist at the heart of the work. I do suggest you read through the page or the artist of the week quickly before you read it with your younger kids, because artists come from all walks of life and beliefs and they may not align with your family’s beliefs. That being said, it has been great for open and frank discussion with my teens about contemporary issues of the day.


Se7en + 1 Things We Love About the Book

  1. This book is everything you would expect a book about great artists for children to be, only ALL the artists are local South African Artists. It is very much in the spirit of “Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls” (a book my kids loved and adored), except the pages are filled with artists that South African children might discover in their local galleries.
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  3. Each artist gets at least a double page spread, one side of the spread includes a very readable biography and the other side of the spread includes an illustrated portrait of the artist, by illustrator Lauren Mulligan.
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  5. Did I say we love the illustrations, bright and funky and inviting… faces of the artists and reflections of their work.
  6. This is a great reference book and a fabulous starting point to get to know South African artists better, the details are quick and easy to glean and the illustrations act as an easy guide to the style of artist you are looking for.
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  8. It includes all kinds of artists, not just painters: there are photographers, fabric artists, collage artists, sculpture… all kinds of creative, wonderfulness.
  9. The writing is short and sweet, which is great for that aren’t comfortable readers. There is a one or two paragraph biography for each artist, just enough to tweak your interest and you can go and research further if you are interested. It is definitely not the formidable pages and pages of writing that you would normally expect in a school reference book.
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  11. This book is just lovely, not just the content but the feel of it. It is delightfully South African, and has a really “Local is Lekker” vibe. It is not a book for kids per se, this is a book for everyone. I think this is one of those books that has to be on the shelves of every library throughout South Africa, it is way past time that South African Art gets a showcase.


Featured Artists And Links to Their Work

I thought I would collect together a list of the artists and a list of links to their works, you do need to check the links out yourself before you let your kids take a look… because some of their works might not be great for very small children or for sensitive viewers. That being said, it is so lovely that we can see examples of their work online.

  1. Andrew Tshabangu
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    Proposed Model for Tseko Simon Nkoli Memorial by Athi-Patra Ruga

  3. Athi-Patra Ruga At the Zietz Moccaa.
  4. Banele Khoza At the Zeitz Mocaa.
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  6. Berni Searle
  7. Billie Zangewa
  8. Blessing Ngobeni
  9. Breeze Yoko
  10. Bridget Baker
  11. Bronwyn Katz
  12. Buhlebezwe Siwani
  13. Cameron Platter
  14. David Koloane at the Goodman Gallery.
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    OphioPhillia by Frances Goodman

  16. Frances Goodman At the Zeitz Mocaa.
  17. Gabrielle Goliath And his Stumbling Block.
  18. Igshaan Adams
  19. Jo Ractliffe and at the Stevenson.
  20. Julia Charlton
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  22. Justin Dingwall
  23. Jyoti Mistry
  24. Karel Nel
  25. Keleketla! Library
  26. Kemang Wa Lehulere at the Zeitz Mocaa and the Stevenson.
  27. Lady Skollie
  28. Makgati Molebatsi
  29. Mark Attwood
  30. Mikhael Subotzky and the Goodman Gallery.
  31. Mmakgabo Mapula Helen Sebidi
  32. Nandipha Mntambo at the Zeitz Mocaa and the Stevenson.
  33. Nkule Mabaso
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  35. Penny Siopis at the Zeitz Mocaa and at the Stevenson.
  36. Robin Rhode and at the Stevenson.
  37. Sam Nhlengethwa at the Goodman Gallery.
  38. Same Mdluli
  39. Santu Mofokeng
  40. Stephané Conradie
  41. Stephen Hobbs
  42. Sue Williamson at the Zeitz Mocaa at the Goodman Gallery.
  43. Thenjiwe Nkosi
  44. Thania Petersen at the Zeitz Mocaa.
  45. Thuli Mlambo-James
  46. Usha Seejarim
  47. Wayne Barker
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    More Sweetly Play the Dance by William Kentridge

  49. William Kentridge at the Zeitz Mocaa and at the Goodman Gallery.
  50. Zander Blom

Great Galleries to Visit With Kids Around Cape Town.

  1. Zeitz Mocaa, this is well worth visiting and lots of “free time slots” for locals to visit.
  2. The Irma Stern Museum, this one also has a book tie in and is a magical place to visit.


There is only one thing I don’t understand about this book, and maybe something to change in future editions. Why is the illustrator’s name not on the front cover with the author. Crazy really. Of course the author is critical to the book, but the illustrator’s work makes this book. I am all for illustrators getting their names on the front cover, their work deserves it.

Thank you to Jacana Media for supplying this book for review purposes. This is not a sponsored post and all the opinions are as usual my own.

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