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Crowning Glory

On exhibit at Cape Town’s Southern Guild Gallery until February 2nd, uBuhle boKhokho (the Beauty of Our Ancestors) showcases the work of a single artist, Zizipho Poswa. Celebrating the beauty and strength of women, her often towering, sculptural works take inspiration from African women’s hairstyles. The photographs, which feature in the exhibition, informed a series of twenty colossal sculptures that represent historic and contemporary hairstyles worn by women throughout Africa – Poswa references, among others, the complex crested arrangements worn by Fulani women from West Africa and the fan-shaped headpieces of the Zande of Central Africa. Measuring up to two metres high, the sculptures — described as ‘straddling figuration and abstraction’ — reflect both the hairstyles themselves and the women they crown. The artist laboriously constructed each one in the same way that the hairstyles would be crafted on real hair, echoing an ancient traditional art form and lineage of artistry.