In honour of International Women’s Day, we’re looking at some of the female artists currently shaking up the status quo of the art scene in South Africa and beyond.

Zanele Muholi

Durban-born Zanele Muholi is nothing short of a national treasure. Her work in photography has added a visual dimension to the discussion around the reality of the black queer and trans community in South Africa. To her lengthy list of accolades, she was awarded France’s Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres in 2017.
Zanele Muholi

Justine Mahoney

Growing up in Johannesburg in the midst of apartheid has helped to shape Justine Mahoney’s body of work, and she makes interesting points about privilege and loss of innocence. Her sculptures have become immediately iconic, and her most recent Ndebele was nominated as one of The Most Beautiful Objects in South Africa as part of the Design Indaba.

Thabisa Mjo

Thabisa Mjo founder of Mash T Design Studio has been shaking up the design world for a while. Having studied production design at film school and then returning to study interior design and architectural drawing, Mjo is known now for her lighting and furniture pieces that represent her childhood and culture in a tongue-in-cheek and refreshing way. Her Tutu 2.0 won the award for the Most Beautiful Object in South Africa at the recent Design Indaba.

Ssanyu Sematimba

Originally from Uganda, but now based in Johannesburg, Sematimba is a visual artist with a focus on fashion, photography and graphic design. As a young black creative, she’s looking to challenge the international design industry by adding a fresh African perspective.

Lhola Amira

Lhola Amira almost needs no introduction, the captivating appearance artist centres her work around healing the wound left by colonisation while highlighting the power and potential of black people. She recently represented SMAC Gallery at the Investec Cape Town Art Fair.

Buhlebezwe Siwani

Known for her visual work in photography, installations, sculpture and performance, Buhlebezwe Siwani centres her work around the patriarchal idea of the black female body and black female experience within South Africa.