Swiss Origami artist: Sipho Mabena

Swiss Origami artist: Sipho Mabena

An unedited version of the story I wrote on him for the Cape Argus:

CAPE TOWN pupils got the chance to make origami with world renowned Swiss artist, Sipho Mabona, who popped into Harvest Primary School in Mitchells Plain to teach a group of Grade 7 pupils how to make art.

Mabona, born to a South African dad and a Swiss mother, was born and bred in Switzerland and says he made his first paper plane when he was five years old.

Now he makes anything from sculptures to tiny insects to whales, rhinos to an origami lounge he made in Berlin which was complete with furniture and a folded ceiling.

“You can make pretty much anything. I love the fact that it is so simple. Just grab a piece of paper and the sky is the limit.”

Mabona’s work has been exhibited all over the world and in 2008 he became the first foreigner to be invited to the Japan Origami Academic Society.

In a classroom at Harvest Primary, a group of Grade 7 pupils listened intently as he gave them a workshop on how to make origami.

Soon, white sheets of paper, took on different shapes to become little foxes, steamboats and paper-planes.

Mabena and the pupils later flew their paper-planes outside the school.

He said he enjoys working with children and has cultivated the patience of dealing with young people from years he spent working as a teacher.

“I used to teach all sorts of thing and I still sometimes work with kids, so it comes easy. It’s great to come around and work with young people.”

He said he hoped to inspire them because there were only a handful of people around the world who did origami art as a full time career, “although there are lots of meeting I go to where I meet other origami artists.”

Mabona, who is in town to work with Woolworths on their back to school campaign, said he is disappointed that he will not be spending a lot of time in Cape Town although he promised to be back for next year’s Design Indaba conference.


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