Nandi is back with a vengeance

Scaling down on gender-based biases is not the only issue this Johannesburg-based artist has been perfecting lately. Nandipha Mntambo’s work took a necessary turn allowing her to scale down on her work and returned with more than a fresh set of eyes – she became a mother. Like many women, taking a moment to rejuvenate and set new goals while taking care of life doesn’t mean your career is buried along with the journey – the renowned award-winning sculptor is determined to prove it.

Mntambo’s passion not only lies in creating her artworks – she is a mother, lecturer, innovator, and a woman who insists on consistently challenging conformity. Nandipha decided to go against expectations and work on sculptures made from kettle hide instead of going for pottery, wood carving or basic metalwork. Her breakthrough came in her 4th year of art school, caught between photography and sculpture, inspired by her background and history of South Africa.

 Her artwork is refreshingly expressive and as unique and dynamic as the woman who created it. Sculpting is not only a physically demanding art form, but it can also be a challenging landscape to navigate. By using her feminine energy and wit, she manipulates not only materials to bend to her will but the art world to listen to her voice.

She is bold, and her work stands out as risky and untamed but mostly thought-provoking. Not only is she a woman to watch but mostly not to underestimate.


After a short hiatus to focus on personal growth and raising her daughter, Nandipha is currently working on new projects and getting back to the world she loves. One such project is building her own art studio. Despite her accolades, she still faces the same challenges faced by women who choose to push themselves in an industry dominated by men.


With the gift of motherhood, she has been less active but no less artistic. Still creating art in the comfort of her home and sometimes with her daughter in the toe. A juggling act of family and fitting into the narrow spaces of the art world has caused a shift in focus as both worlds fight equally for her attention.

In spite of obstacles and naysayers, Nandipha is ready to remind everyone why she deserves a seat at the table. She won’t conform but instead use all her flashing differences to make a statement to ‘challenge the status quo that women who choose to have children, decide to settle and are never heard from again’. For her, this isn’t how she wants her story to be written, so she works hard to ensure that people like her are respected in the industry for their hard work, zeal and passion for the art.

TEXT: Jade Novelist IMAGES: © Nandipha Mntambo