Trash is Mveliso Ntaba's new gold

Mveliso Ntaba is an artist that recycles cardboard and plastic to make architectural structures.
Mveliso Ntaba is an artist that recycles cardboard and plastic to make architectural structures.
Image: Mduduzi Ndzingi

A 27-year-old man found his calling by using trash to make architectural designs when he failed to find work after finishing his studies.

Mveliso Ntaba from Ivory Park Extension 2, outside Tembisa, said he only became aware of his talent for art when he was 25 and recovering from alcohol addiction.

"I became a hawker and I had a lot of cardboard and plastic coverings from goods that had piled up. So I decided to make art to keep myself busy. To my surprise, I realised that I was good at it," he said.

The father of two said he was inspired by wealthy people such as Bill Gates, who live in expensive houses. "I wish that people in Ivory Park could live in decent and interesting houses. That is also where my inspiration comes from," he said.

Ntaba collects his materials from all over Ivory Park and surrounding areas like Ebony Park, Kaalfontein and Allandale. "I go to taverns and ask for their boxes and I also go to dumping sites, which are also great for collecting plastic," said Ntaba.

However, he said people in his community have complained that his art is expensive. "I can spend up to a month working on a project. For the time-frame and the
effort put in, I think I sell it for a fair price," he said.

His prices for all his art pieces range from R200 to R3500, depending on the type of art and materials used.

His Jewellery can make him up to R1000 on a good month, but his passion lies in the architectural design space.

Ntaba said he has visited top galleries in Gauteng to try and sell his art but has not been successful.

"I went to three galleries and I was told that they were only taking in ceramic art pieces," he said.

This has meant that he has found difficulty in entering the high-end art market.

"My greatest wish is to be sponsored to study architecture or interior design. To be honest, I was unfortunate to only find myself and my talent after studying administration," he said.

He said he has multiple dreams that include selling his designs to architecture firms and buying a 3D-printer to make his artwork perfect.

"I want to teach youth in the community art and expose them to the possibilities that exist outside of our community," he said.