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Celebrating the Life of an Artist, Poet and Philosopher: Selby Mvusi: To Fly with the North Bird South by Elza Miles

Romeo Msibe, Melita Mmela, Moeketsi Letseka and Hetta Pieterse

Selby MvusiUnisa Press and the Mutloatse Arts Heritage Trust are proud to present Selby Mvusi: To Fly with the North Bird South by Elza Miles – coming soon:

Selby Mvusi: To Fly with the North Bird South is a thorough, insightful account of the life and work of Selby Mvusi; an inimitable painter, sculptor, printmaker, poet and academic. Miles, renowned art historian, weaves this unique story with understanding, intelligence and a distinctively delicate touch. Industrial designers will find in the book a rich reference source, as Mvusi’s lecture notes are included on the accompanying CD.

Mvusi, a visionary ahead of his time, was little known in South Africa and spent much of his short life on foreign shores.

In this narrative, Miles shows us Selby’s multiple gifts as a fine artist, poet, industrial design lecturer and a true African philosopher. The brilliance of Mvusi lies in his constant interweaving of disciplines: lines from his poems recur in other writings as sentences from lectures reappear in consecutive essays. His art and writing simulates the cycles and changes in nature. His thinking is free of categorising. In this way, Mvusi captures “the essence of being human”.

This remarkable work is an invaluable contribution to the history of South African art, thought and creativity.

About the author

Elza Miles was awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of Johannesburg for her contribution to South African art. She worked as an art critic for the newspapers Rapport and Beeld from the seventies to 1990. From 1987 to early 1994, she taught History of Art at the Federated Union of Black Artists (FUBA) and undertook research into the work of South African black artists. She has curated two major retrospective exhibitions: Hand in Hand (1994) the work of Ernest Mancoba and Sonja Ferlov, for which she was awarded a Vita Award; and in 1996, the work of Selby Mvusi (apart from several other exhibitions curated by her). For her monograph on Ernest Mancoba, Lifeline out of Africa (Human & Rousseau, 1994) Miles was awarded the Recht Malan Prize and the Old Mutual Award. Her publications also include The World of Jean Welz (Rembrandt van Rijn Art Foundation, 1995) while she authored several articles, served as jury member on major art competitions. She is a practising artist and participated in several exhibitions.

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