+27 (0)82 926 6169
Godfrey Dambuleni Q&A
By: Kit Heathcock   (2018-03-29)

Godfrey Dambuleni - wire and patchwork artist

Godfrey Dambuleni (aka Gora) is a master of creating beauty from other people’s garbage, using recycled materials to create his distinctive patchwork animal heads and sculptures. Looking at one of his pieces, first you see the animal, its grace and form, then your eye moves into the colour and intricate detail of the individual tins and shapes that make up the piece. We chatted to Gora about his work, which can be found in the gallery and at Unit 1 of the Craft Market at Spier.


How did you start with your art from recycled materials?

I started doing wire art as a child, making wire cars as toys back at home in Zimbabwe. When I came here looking for work and couldn’t find a job I remembered those cars. We took the art we used to make when we were young and made them to sell.

Godfrey Dambuleni - Rhino

What inspired your patchwork technique?

About 15 years ago, I saw that so many tin cans were being thrown away and wanted to do something about recycling them. I had the idea for using them as a patchwork on a wire frame. Back then I made a few one-off rhinos with that technique and sold them, but I didn’t develop it further at that stage. Then 5 years ago I remembered them and started making much larger pieces and developing the technique into what I’m doing today.

I’ve developed a whole process around the patchwork technique and I’m training up the guys who are my team. They prepare the patchwork shapes and punch holes for me to make the finished piece. I make trophy heads and large animal sculptures which are a patchwork of colours from all the different types of tins.

Godfrey Dambuleni - Elephant

Your globes are also among your bestsellers. Tell us about those.

My globes go back to 1997. I used to make globes in plain wire and was selling them in Melville. A guy I met there suggested I make them with the shapes of the continents on and said he would buy one for 10 times what I was selling the plain ones for. So I went away and thought how I could do that and found some old oil tins. I cut myself the first time, but it worked well and the guy bought my first globe. I’ve been making them ever since in three different sizes. People have copied them, but I keep improving mine and I think you can see the quality of the originals.

Godfrey Dambuleni - Globes

Where do you get inspiration from?

I look at an animal and then I hold it for 3 or 4 days in my mind until I know what I’m going to make. So when I start I have a clear picture in my mind of what it will be. Right now the lion, the king of animals, is my favourite animal to make and I’m working on a large lion patchwork sculpture for the Craft Market at Spier.

Godfrey’s work is represented in private collections all over the world. if you’d like to commission him to make a special one-off piece for you at any time of year, please contact him via Sue Heathcock Projects. Payment can be arranged via Paypal and shipping organised to anywhere in the world.