© Helen Sebidi
Helen Sebidi (born in 1943 in Marapyane, South Africa) is a painter based in Johannesburg.
Helen Sebidi was raised by her grandmother, who had a great influence on her worldview and encouraged her to pursue creative activities. At that time, she already applied herself to pottery, weaving, drawing, painting and decorating calabashes. She turned painting into her profession after having worked for a couple of years as a domestic worker and after being wrongfully jailed. She was supported by her teacher and mentor John Koenakeefe Mohl, who motivated her to exchange with older generations of her community, thereby staying close to traditional African culture and preserve it in the spirit of her work. As an artist she finds inspiration in pre-colonial Africa whereas her works also mirror personal experiences. For Helen Sebidi, it is of particular concern to inspire and encourage younger generations, specially artists.
Helen Sebidi was the first black artist in South Africa who was given the opportunity to exhibit her work in an exhibition in 1986. In 1988, she travelled to the US as part of a Fulbright Scolarship. Since the 90s Helen Sebidi has undertaken various journeys and has exhibited her works internationally. In 2004, she was awarded the “Order of Ikhamanga” by the then South African president.