The elders of my community would paint the houses. When they left for a break, I would continue to paint on the house. When they came back they would say: what have you done child? Never do that again! After that I started drawing on the back of the house, and slowly my drawings got better until they finally asked me to come back to the front of the house. Then I knew I was good at painting. I want to preserve my cultural heritage, and that’s why I founded an art school in Mpumalanga.
Brands give me the freedom to paint what I want so it’s always a good partnership. The owner of the Rolls-Royce Phantom asked me to use only blues, which was fine, and then I painted the design I wanted. A portion of the proceeds from the sale of ‘The Mahlangu Phantom’ will be donated to the school and will be used to support a retrospective exhibition that will tell my life story.
I don’t want the art to vanish. We mostly use acrylic paint now, and sometimes still cow dung and clay soil. And I still use chicken feathers, not paint brushes – the Rolls-Royce dash gallery was painted with chicken feathers.