The Portfolio: Slondile Jali

When I created this artwork I was very anxious. I had made a big decision, which was to take my daughter to come and live with me. I am a single mother and my daughter swings between me and my parents, who help me raise her. I wanted to be together with her on a full-time basis, which was something we hadn’t done since she was very young.

Creatively, I was filled with inspiration and the excitement of starting something new. A title I thought about was Siyaphi?, because it was also a major change for her.

So I wanted to use that energy to produce something that would inspire both me and her. So I looked at old photos of us with the theme I had in mind. I then started to doodle a few patterns, which is what I normally do. I drew our feet by referencing a photo that we had taken.

I cropped out our feet from the picture and played with the image on photoshop to remove the background so that it’d be easy to use the elements I wanted to use. I then drew over the photo, adding some details, and then scanned it into a computer and then layered it with the patterns I’d drawn separately.

I spent a lot of energy working on my individual style. I figured that I wanted to combine my style of drawing with my doodling patterns and little things that seemed like they weren’t going anywhere.

The more I worked on this artwork, and the more I doodled stuff, the more the patterns and the vision came together. It no longer became a question of siyaphi? It was more siya phambili, which was really great for me and inspired me in terms of handling the pressures of being a full-time working single mom. The way we were standing was so cute because I’m pushing her forward, and I’ve got her back. I really like how that illustration put that out there.

This has become one of my favourite illustrations of all time, because I have so few of them that feature my daughter. I did this illustration for my khalenda (that I print and sell), which was inspired by the birth of my daughter. When you are pregnant, dates become so important. Your life becomes measured in weeks and not months like normal people. Every month is a milestone in your baby’s life.

Subscribe to the M&G

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years, and we’ve survived right from day one thanks to the support of readers who value fiercely independent journalism that is beholden to no-one. To help us continue for another 35 future years with the same proud values, please consider taking out a subscription.

Related stories


press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…

The best local and international journalism

handpicked and in your inbox every weekday