Meet The Team
As the founder and CEO of Phehla Umsebenzi, Gwen Nkosi is both diligent in her construction company and committed to the profession. Gwen founded Phehla Umsebenzi after nearly 13 years in the fashion industry running her own clothing boutiques in five provinces throughout South Africa.
Before founding Phehla Umsebenzi, Gwen successfully ran ten clothing boutiques from 1993 to 2006 which catered to women and men of discerning taste in clothing. During studying Nursing Science majoring in Psychology at Wits, she travelled to Bangkok with the Anthropology department and came back with jeans to re-sale to fellow students. This led to her been nominated to go with the delegation to Hong Kong with the Department of Trade and Industry. This trip ushered to the formation of SAWEN. With the exposure to clothing, she had the opportunity of designing nurses' uniforms, moving from the polyester to natural fibre uniforms.
During deliveries to the various clinics in Ekurhuleni Metropolitan Municipality, she became aware of the appalling conditions of the clinics and got involved in the designing and building of health care centres.
This steered Gwen to be more involved in the construction industry and founding her own construction company which employs 10 black females and 7 black males permanently. Her own interest in health guided her in focusing on building health facilities that would better equip the community in receiving the best health care in facilities that were safe and adequate in helping with the healing process. As Founder of Nkosi Ceramics, we also intend to a Therapeutic Pottery for Depression by the mental health community, in the form of Wellness and Distress Centres and Community Training Centers
Phehla Umsebenzi is currently building student accommodation for TUT University
Natalia Efremova Nkosi
Natalia Efremova Nkosi one of the co-founders and a self-taught artist at Nkosi Ceramic began her journey of art in Russia when she was a child. With the rich cultural history of Russia, Natalia would often go to art exhibitions with her family. The magic of art always interested her and she feels privileged that she can now create the magic herself. Natalia has extended her skills by adding sculptor to her skills. Natalia learnt sculpting from the employees at Nkosi Ceramic, who have patiently helped her acquire the skill. Restriction in art is the beginning of killing art. Everything inspires Natalia is creating her art. “If you do not risk, you do not drink champagne” Experimenting is a necessity in the way Natalia creates art. Natalia believes that art is its own language that she believes can transcend language and speak to many people no matter where they come from. Obsession on a subject matter is where the creative process of Natalia’s art begins. Once an idea is formed she would use every waking second and dream of it until it is actualized. Seeing objects that she feels to could create it better is what sparks the beginning of the process. Nkosi Ceramic is a dream come true for Natalia as she can live her passion as an artist as well as run a business with her family. As much as Nkosi Ceramic has created some wonderful art pieces, she believes that there is always more and looks forward to the future of what can be created.
Being a daughter of entrepreneurs, Nonhle Nkosi had no choice but to follow in their footsteps. Having learnt the fundamentals of business from working at her parent’s boutique store from the age of 10, Nonhle has always been interested in the workings of the business
Whilst studying BCompt Accounting, Nonhle started her own business of selling human hair at university which helped her contribute to paying for her first car and her love for traveling.
Nonhle became a director at Phehla Umsebenzi when her family got into construction in 2006. Finding her passion in the brick and mortar made her pursue her studies further in project management.
With the ever expanding businesses of the Nkosi family, Nonhle immediately jumped on the opportunity when Nkosi Ceramic was founded. Although not been a creative herself she has found a great relaxation in throwing clay and painting items.
Sondelani Sithembiso Ntshalintshali
Sondelani Sithembiso Ntshalintshali was born in Estcourt, KwaZulu-Natal. Currently based in Diepsloot,
Johannesburg he has been a sculptor for 19 years and is working at Nkosi Ceramic. Sondelani is a self-
taught artist and has had his skills refined at Ardmore.
Owning his own art studio is a dream that Sondelani aspires to. His main focus on African animals,
flowers and birds is what makes his pieces unique. He experiments with different techniques in making
each item. Sondelani gets his inspiration from visiting game parks.
Eliott Kawina Zulu, has always loved art from childhood as he was taught by his father who was also an artist. Zulu as he is affectionately called by the team found an article in a newspaper calling for artist in the pottery industry; this was the beginning of his career. With 23 years’ experience in the industry, Zulu has worked for Penzo Designs and Anderson Ashby Studio. He is currently a painter at Nkosi Ceramic where he uses his talents to tell the African story. Zulu’s medium is underglaze paints, lustres and acrylics which he expertly paints to create the colours that he envisions.
A number of art pieces that were created by Zulu were included in a range for Dior. Zulu wants his artwork to leave an empowering mark for a young artist. Zulu’s subject matter is the African wildlife, rural lifestyle as well as cultural designs. The world is a diverse place and Zulu feels that you cannot satisfy art lovers with a single idea. This is why his art work is often diverse.
Zulu’s creative process begins with a simple idea. Often finding inspiration from books, Google and art exhibitions he is able to think of a multitude of ideas which assist in creating his own unique artwork. In the future Zulu would like to train young artist as well as explore different techniques to make his art evolve.
Tapiwa Mdlongwa, is currently an artist at Nkosi Ceramics has 18 years of experience in painting ceramics. Tapiwa had a natural skill and love for painting. He honed his skill at Mzilikazi Art and Craft. He was diagnosed with cataract which has hampered his ability to do his beloved art but he still continues to design various African wildlife. During his recovery he also learnt how to cast moulds which kept him in the ceramic industry which he loves.
Tapiwa would one day want to be an owner of his own art studio. His favourite subject matter is the African wildlife with a freestyle background. With the freedom to explore his creativity, Tapiwa experiments with various scenery.
Often times his inspiration would come from his father who was an artist and taught him about art. His father bought him various magazines and books to give him inspiration. One day Tapiwa would love to see his artwork winning an art competition.
Eliott Kawina Zulu
Junoth Ncube started doing art at Northlea High in 1995. This sparked his love for art and he went on o get training at Mzilikazi Art and Craft. With 18 years experience, his main focus has been with underglaze paint which is used on ceramics.
Junoth’s favourite subject matter is wildlife. His interest in rarely seen poses of various animals is what keeps him inspired. This keeps him developing his skill to the highest level and one day dreams of achieving his goal of creating an art school. Exclusivity is Junoth’s aim. He wants each piece to be unique and have its own story to tell.
Sculptures speak to Junoth. Each piece tells him what the creative process he would need to take as each piece is unique. Society around him and work from other artist inspire his own work. Teaching is a passion for Junoth as it also inspires him in his creative process.
Denis Ndlovu has 35 years of experience in making various clay vases. Having learnt his trade at Mzilikazi Art and Craft Centre he has enjoyed making various shapes and heights of vases.
Denis enjoys experimenting with the shapes of ancient Greek and modern vases. With experience Denis has found it easier to just look at a shape and create a replica. Although often times he can make a vase just from his imagination.
He finds inspiration from the shapes of items and would like to explore different techniques in creating vases. In Denis spare time he teaches the youth the technique of pottery.
Sam Phiri, a self taught ceramic artist has 23 years experience and is currently an artist at Nkosi Ceramics.
For Sam experimenting with new designs and making each piece different is what he wants to achieve with his art. His main focus are floral designs as well as the African wildlife. When Sam is in need of new ideas, he would go to the zoo to get inspiration or watch the Discovery Channel to get more ideas.
The creative process of every artist is unique, Sam often daydreams of what would go on to the various pieces of ceramics. Books expand his imagination of what he can design. Been blessed to work with other artist who are the best in their field, Sam feels inspired to create. His future aspirations is to have his artwork been displayed in the homes of Ambassadors.
Elle Mlotshwa knew from an early age that he loved painting. Not been the biggest fan of art he would often sketch in his notebook or on the ground all his artwork which got him in trouble with his teachers and parents. With more than 13 years experience Elle is grateful to be working in a field that he is passionate about.
Fine art and wildlife drawings are the subject matter he focuses on and sometime would mix both in one piece. One would not be an artist if they did not experiment with their artwork. Elle likes to put in various patterns and designs with each artwork he creates.
Everything in the world inspires Elle, from the pieces created by other artists to various subject matters. Elle aspires to have his own studio to create and display his work
No art piece created at Nkosi Ceramics would be complete without the expertise of Miko Mpofu. Mpofu
as he is affectionately named has over 30 years experience as a kiln operator. Having learnt in Southern Africa
how to operate the machinery he has become very meticulous in making certain that each piece comes
out the best.
Glazing of each item is an art in itself. Each item needs to be carefully sanded and examined before it
can be put into firing. Mpofu focuses on each item to create the matt or shine finished expected.
Mpofu manages the staff of Nkosi Ceramic with affection and diligence to ensure that each art piece
comes out perfect.
Maturino Malunga, is an artist who trained at Mzilikazi Art and Craft Centre in Zimbabwe has been a sculptor for 30 years. Currently Maturino is a sculptor at Nkosi Ceramic using clay to sculpt the African wildlife.
Maturino is inspired by the art works of Leonardo Da Vinci and hopes that his art would be recognized like Da Vinci’s. The African Big Five is Maturino’s main focus and motivation in creating the various sculptures of animals. Maturino experiments with the different position of animals and how agile they can be.
The creative process of making an animal has become second nature to Maturino. With interest from different countries he enjoys learning from books and visiting safaris and zoos to get the forms of the animals to be realistic. Sculpting has many different techniques and Maturino plans on undertaking various techniques in sculpting in order to broaden his skills.