After participating in the first Triangle Network artists’ workshop in 1982, the South African artist David Koloane joined with other artists to initiate the Thupelo workshops in Johannesburg in 1985. In the late 1980s, Thupelo moved to Cape Town.
“Thupelo” is a Sotho word and means “to teach by example.” The workshops provide artists with the opportunity to explore and develop their own artistic abilities, to experiment, and to find new forms of expression in an intense and creative collaborative process. They are both a space to make art as well as a space for the exchange of ideas, experiences, techniques, and disciplines with artists from around the world.
The annual Thupelo workshops, which are styled after the Triangle Network artists’ workshops, focus on the shared creative process of learning and of making art. Ten local and ten international visual artists spend two weeks together working on a particular topic or in a particular medium, such as graphic design, painting, or video art. At the end of the workshop, the works are presented to the public in an Open Day.
Thupelo has helped establish other arts organizations, including Greatmore Studios in Cape Town and the Bag Factory in Johannesburg, and is supported internationally by the Triangle Arts Trust.