Alex Sibanda

Alex Sibanda was born in Gweru in Zimbabwe in 1963. His father was a foreman on a farm while his mother took care of her eight children.

At school he was encouraged to develop his drawing skills. In 1978 he joined the Mzilikazi Arts and Crafts Centre where he was involved in drawing, sculpture and mural painting.

Seeking safer pastures than strife-torn Zimbabwe, Alex moved to South Africa in 2004. He found employment at Into Arts in Johannesburg, modelling dinnerware such as vases, teapots and bowls. “But it didn’t have the imagination and vitality of Ardmore,” he says.

His fellow countryman, Lovemore Sithole, invited Alex to visit Ardmore and he joined the team of sculptors in January 2010. Alex is married and has four children who live in Johannesburg.

In 2010, Fée Halsted, founder of Ardmore, and Christopher Greig of Charles Greig Jewellers, were preparing for the Travellers of Africa exhibition to commemorate World Cup Soccer in South Africa.

Alex was guided to create sculpture rather than functional ceramics, deriving his inspiration from images he knew well: the Zimbabwean carved wooden hippo curio found on the roadside enroute to Harare or Bulawayo from Beit Bridge.

Alex identified with Fée’s ideas as he and his fellow travellers had experienced travelling from SA in heavily loaded buses on their many border crossings, returning with provisions for their families. Alex was inspired as the theme of travellers was very close to his heart.

Fée, on the other hand, was also harking back to the Egyptian Hippos decorated in Blue Lotus flowers as the hippo image is steeped in ancient African imagery.

Fée assigned Alex to sculpt the Rider series for the Travellers exhibition at Charles Greig in 2010, and his first Hippo Riders, decorated by Jabu Nene, were purchased by the Museum of Cultures in Basel, Switzerland.

He says: “I am happy to be at Ardmore, doing what I know best – sculpting. I enjoyed creating the Hippo Riders. They have really put me on the map.”

In 2012 Alex’s Rider series moved from hippos to rhino riders and were used to raise awareness and funds for endangered species. His riders were selected to narrate the vices and virtues of life in South Africa in a major Ardmore commission called The South African Formula.

The same year Alex began working large scale and created a very big monkey sculpture for a collector in Mauritius and another Monkey with a baby, which was painted by Mandla Ngwenya in the new fabric range patterns for the Grand Carnival fabric and book launch, held at Charles Greig, Hyde Park, Johannesburg.

“Alex is the most wonderful man and artist to work with as he is always challenged and dares,” says Fée.

From there on his scale increased and he created his first giant hippo sculptures, which were launched in 2013 at Charles Greig’s ‘Just so Crocodile and Other Curiosities’ show in Hyde Park.

Towards the end of that year Alex was chosen to represent South Africa and Ardmore at the Moscow Trade Show in Russia.

In the January of 2014 Pascoe & Co. exhibited Alex’s large rhino and hippo rider sculptures and his first large giraffe was shown at Cellars, Cape Town in the February 2014.

A wonderful ground hornbill sculpture was also created by Alex for the ‘Birds of Africa’ show in Sandton in September 2014 for Charles Greig Jewellers.

Ardmore celebrated 30 years in 2015 and Alex was assigned to work on a limited edition storytelling series of 30 works.

His first commission was a large rhino, which he worked on in collaboration with Petros Gumbi, and a model of the figure of Bonnie Ntshalintshali with her Standard Bank Young Artist’s Award work.

Alex also travelled in February 2015 with an Ardmore team to Cellars in Cape Town for the ‘Animal Botanical’ exhibition.

Exhibitions

2010


‘African Travellers’Johannesburg

Amaridian GalleryFrance

2011


‘Ivory & Ebony’Cape Town

‘Earth & Fire’United States

Le Negresco HotelNice, France

NAADA (National Antiques & Decorative Arts) FaireJohannesburg

PlumbagoDurban

AnagamaVersailles, France

2012


International Ceramic ShowUnited States

‘Ardmore Aviary’Cape Town

Les Ceramiques Zouloues ArdmoreParis

‘Endangered Animals’ exhibitionLondon

An African CollectionAustralia

Naada Faire Antiques and CollectablesJohannesburg

Fabric and book launch: Ardmore, We Are Because of OthersHermanus

Fabric and book launch: Ardmore, We Are Because of OthersCape Town

We Are Because of Others, Charles GreigJohannesburg

Ardmore in LuxembourgLuxembourg

Ardmore in MauritiusTerre Rouge

Ardmore in BeauneFrance

Ardmore in GenevaSwitzerland

Patrick Mavros Christmas Safari WeekLondon

A Celebration of Zulu Life and ArtistryUnited States

Ardmore AustraliaSydney

2013


Pascoe & Co. exhibition West Palm BeachUnited States

‘Monkeys and Magnolias’London

FynArts FestivalHermanus

Naada FaireJapan

Franschhoek Literary FestivalFranschhoek

'Just So Crocodiles and other Curiosities’Johannesburg

Creel and GowLondon

Patrick MavrosZimbabwe

2014


Pascoe and Co.United States

‘Great Herds of Africa’Cape Town

‘Great Herds of Africa’Londo

‘Inspired By the Ocean’Hermanus

Birds of AfricaJohannesburg

‘Great Herds of Africa’Kenya

‘Birds of Africa’Zimbabwe

2015


WMODA, Pascoe and Co.United States

'Animal Botanical'Cape Town

Animal Botanical'London

'Parrots and Pomegranates'Hyde Park

Isabelle Turquin GalleryFrance

2016


‘Kalahari Cats’Cape Town

‘The Great Zambezi’London

'Celebrating The Year of The Monkey'Charles Greig, Hyde Park, Johannesburg

2017


'The Great Zambezi'Cellars-Hohenot, Cape Town