Tomas Muchanga finds niche in wired art

Tomas Muchanga with some of his artwork he sells on Joburg streets . /THANGO NTWASA
Tomas Muchanga with some of his artwork he sells on Joburg streets . /THANGO NTWASA

When strolling around in Melville, Johannesburg, one might be enchanted by the bars, restaurants and clothing shops in the area.

However, a quick stroll down 7th Avenue, you will find a number of informal traders, particularly the ones who sell art.

One of those traders is Tomas Muchanga from Mozambique. He has been selling wired art to make a living.

While this has allowed him to feed his family, Muchanga shares that making wired art is a skill that he learnt as a child in the outskirts of Maputo.

"We didn't have toys, so you created your own," said Muchanga.

It was not until his friend appreciated Muchanga's skills that he saw the potential of it as a business.

"There was a young white friend of mine who used to appreciate my design because I was always creating something - bicycles, airplanes, motorbikes, a lot of things," said Muchanga.

This opened doors for him to sell his art to rich customers which allowed him to develop more skills and get equipment in terms of what he creates.

With a much more innovative demand, Muchanga added an electrical factor to some of his creations with battery operated helicopters which have turned a number of heads on social media platforms like Twitter.

Having moved to South Africa for more opportunities, Muchanga started selling his art on the street, but he also saw a need to create opportunities for other street vendors similar to him.

Other than teaching them the skill, Muchanga has also created a space where they share each other's creations and earn up to 30% of each other's sales.

"I don't like to see someone not being able to do anything [for themselves], I like seeing people learning to do something so that they know how to survive."

Muchanga is proud of being able to provide skills and a living for himself through his art, though he shares that it is a difficult journey being an artist.

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