Reader Profile - Art Wired
In April 2002 George Mongwayi was 25 years old and working as a welder and grinder, travelling to and from work on the train. One afternoon he caught the train home as usual and started walking home from the station. Four men approached him in the street and tried to rob him and shot him at close range. Their despicable bullet passed straight through his body, just to the right of his spine, leaving him T 3/4.
An ambulance took him to Dr George Mukhari Hospital where he stayed for four months for rehabilitation. George says that the care he received there prepared him well for his new life. I received practical as well as emotional support and they really inspired me to carry on with my life after I left rehab.
My wife and I carried on after I came out of hospital. Both of my children were born after the shooting, my boy of 10 years and my daughter of 8 years. But my wife found it very difficult to cope with my physical changes and also look after the children, so she left in 2006 and I look after my children alone. I struggle a lot to make enough money to look after us three.
As a child, George had loved making things out of wire. He made wire cars and othertoys for himself and his friends.
I had a family to look after. I did courses such as computer literacy after I left rehab but I was unable to find employment, even with my certificates. And the bills were still coming in, so this is why I decided to make wire artwork.
I sell my art on the streets and I go to companies and sell some there and I also go to exhibitions. I like exhibitions because my art form is very rare, even with people from overseas - they love my art. You can't just find it anywhere. It is interesting.
I would love to have a big company selling the artwork all over South Africa. I dream of being an entrepreneur and teaching other people to make such beautiful artwork.
George has the use of an office that he works from and has an assistant that he has taught the wire working skills to. But he needs help if he is going to achieve his entrepreneurial dreams.
It would be a great help if people could donate cable wire and paint that issuitable for spray painting. A big problem is also that I have no lights or electricity. But I have recently spoken to the counsellor and maybe I will get electricity soon. I also need someone to advise me about getting a grant or a sponsorship so that I can teach other people how to do what I do and grow the business.
There is nothing easy about George's life. As difficult as it is for him to create his glorious artwork - with no running water or electricity - it is just as hard for him at home in Soshanguve, just north of Pretoria.
It is very difficult where I live. It is very difficult for me to get in the bathroom and things and it would be very nice if I could stay in a place for people with disabilities but I don't know how to organise that. I don't even know if there is a place that would take me with my two children. And then? Where would I work from?
I want my work to be recognised in the world for the art that it is. If companies are interested in purchasing my products, if they have an idea of something that they would like me to makethey can ask me. I can make just about anything from wire!