Birds over a Field

Gallery Profile

Gladys Mgudlandlu

Birds over a Field

Gouache on paper

49,5 x 58 cm

"Part of Mgudlandlu’s rich heritage was the Eastern Cape bird lore. She knew the birds of the region intimately, called them her friends and painted them. Various birds of the Eastern Cape such as the honey bird, dove, pied crow, eagle, black-headed heron, African black oystercatcher, European oystercatcher and hawk, feature in her paintings. She was even called ‘unontaka’ (‘the bird lady’). Although her birds appear imaginary, their habits and characteristics are identifiable. For Mgudlandlu birds become personalities. Her work suggests two viewpoints: one from below for birds and one from above for people. She said that the bird’s eye-view went back to her childhood. As a child she often climbed the rock of the Xhosa mystic and seer Ntsikana. From the heights of the rock, she enjoyed the landscape and the bird’s eye perspective was imprinted on her memory.


Elza Miles (2002) Nomfanekiso Who Paints at Night: The Art of Gladys Mgudlandlu, Cape Town: Fernwood Press, pages 41 & 42."