Phenyo Melody Madiba, better known as ‘Mel Madiba’, was born in October 1993, in Mafikeng and grew up in Pretoria. She now lives and works intermittently between Pretoria and Johannesburg. When she finished High School, having taken Design as a subject, she went to study Interior Design at The Design School of Southern Africa. It was there where she fell in love with wood and discovered pyrography, which is the art of drawing on wood, leather, or other materials using a soldering iron. It is through this art form that she began creating works that seek to explore various aspects of who she is.
Madiba taps into the inner workings of her mind to conceive work that is rooted in femininity, consciousness and the full expression of oneself. She portrays an array of emotions from a black woman’s lens. Her chosen subject matter is predominantly black women at different stages of their growth. She envisions a world where black beauty can be fully expressed and appreciated without the need for it to be substantiated. The artist uses expressive markings by fire, gold, and African bronze blue to illustrate that black women are naturally divine. She has been influenced by artists like Zanele Muholi, Lina Iris Viktor, Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah, and Donald Nxumalo by their creative approaches in their respective practices.
Her career officially launched in 2019 after being dubbed a Design Indaba Emerging Creative, appearing on the TV show Hashtags Africa, and winning the Blessing Ngobeni Art Prize. Madiba’s work has evolved through personal experiences and she strives to improve her craft even further.