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Gladys Mgudlandlu (1925 - 1979)

The Order of Ikhamanga in

Gladys Mgudlandlu (1925 - 1979) Awarded for:
Pioneering contribution to visual arts in South Africa.

Profile of Gladys Mgudlandlu

Gladys Mgudlandlu was born in 1925 in the district of Peddie in the Eastern Cape. She went to school in Port Elizabeth and in 1940 obtained a Teachers Diploma at the Lovedale College near Alice. In 1944 she moved to the Cape Town township of Gugulethu where she taught.

Mgudlandlu was a self-taught artist with a natural talent for painting. Under very difficult conditions Mgudlandlu practiced her art uncompromisingly to become one of the first black women artists to exhibit their work in public. She held several professional exhibitions in Cape Town and Port Elizabeth and received the Arts SAToday Exhibition award in 1963. She also wrote her own stories and folktales, which she illustrated herself.

Fellow artist and mentor Gregoire Boonzaier, was moved to describe Mgudlandlu as ‘The Black Irma Stern of South Africa’.

Gladys Mgudlandlu is regarded as a pioneer professional black woman artist in South Africa.