Mwandale Mwanyekwa, a.k.a. Big Mama
Mwandale Mwanyekwa, a.k.a. Big Mama, is a sculptor working with various media such as wood, stone, bronze, clay and cement casting. She is a graduate of the Bagamoyo Sculpture School and Sweden’s Gotland College of Fine Arts. She is the owner of Big Mama’s Woodworks and has been creating sculptures taking her all around Africa and beyond since 1999.
Big Mama comes from the Makonde tribe who are well known for their traditional Makonde sculptures, and is a 5th generation woman sculptor in her family. Her aim is to keep the history of the female Makonde sculptors alive through her art, and reflect on skills and culture from her maternal side, who were masters at clay work and carpentry and sculpture in Tanzania and Mozambique. She takes the traditional sculptural style of the Makonde and incorporates a contemporary approach to her art.
She has been honored and commissioned by a wide range of organisations including: the Danish Embassy, Oxfam and Ramada Resort, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation in Dar es Salaam Tanzania; Fairwind Trading Inc (USA). A selection of her work is also on displayed in the World Sculpture Park in Changchun, China; Vergnacco sculpture park in Venzia, Italy as well as the premises of the Ministry of Culture in Libreville, Gabon. Big Mama has attended workshops and exhibited her work all over Africa, Middle East, Asia, Europe and USA.
Since 2007, Mwandale has been curating many exhibitions and organising production of sculptures not only under her established NGO known as “Women art Creators” but many others. Her most recent task has been the International Women’s Day Exhibition titled “Choices” at Alliance Française in Dar es Salaam.