Lucas Sithole

  • Born 1931 in Springs, South Africa
  • Died 1994 in Pongola, South Africa

Lucas Sithole was a South African sculptor, known primarily for his work with indigenous woods. From age six he lived with his Swazi grandmother, a famous potter, who greatly influenced his career as an artist, teaching him about African myths and tales and encouraging him to make small figures of animals and people in clay. At age seventeen he received a Springs Rotary Club scholarship, which allowed him to enter Vlakfontein Technical College. He intended to study sculpture, but because there were no sculptors on the faculty, he had to study crafts like carpentry and welding instead. These skills later proved valuable for his work as a sculptor. In the late 1950s Sithole studied at the Polly Street Art Center, where he met the South African artist Cecil Skotnes (1926–2009). For his sculptures, Sithole preferred to use the trunks of indigenous trees, but he also worked in stone, bronze, and sandstone. Many of his sculptures are thin, elongated figures with either highly polished or pitted and rough surfaces. Although he never traveled outside South Africa (except for Swaziland and Lesotho), his work was exhibited internationally.