The life of an art photographer – Nancy Mteki

Nancy Mteki, daughter of the renowned Richard Mteki, only stumbled into the world of art photography with a chance encounter on her way home from a waitressing job.

Nancy Mteki
Nancy Mteki

Mteki’s father trained her to be a sculptor even as a little girl. Then, as a young woman trying to make her own mark in life, she went to Cape Town to follow in her father’s footsteps.

Things, however, did not go according to plan. Perhaps she hadn’t done her homework properly, or perhaps destiny was calling, but she quickly realised that it was going to be difficult to pursue her goal of creating stone carvings.

“It was very expensive to transport the stones from Zimbabwe and they were not available in South Africa. Faced with this dilemma, I decided to look for an alternative means of making a living,” Mteki says.

She found a job as a waitress.

“I saw an exhibition of photographs on my way from work. I was captivated by what I saw and I asked a man who was standing by the exhibition how I could also become a photographer,” she said. “The guy, who I later learned was Buyapi Mdleldle, a South African photographer, introduced me to the group Iliso Labantu, with whom I began to learn my trade. I didn’t even have a digital camera. I used an analogue one,” Mteki said.

Still working as a waitress, she saved money for four months to buy her first digital camera. And, in January 2014, she got the chance to hold her first solo exhibition at the National Art Gallery in Harare.

She says her favourite subject is soccer, even though she covers a wide spectrum of themes including politics and other social issues.

“I look for anything that catches my eye,” she says.

In 2011, she exhibited work in the Pimp my Kombi exhibition at the Gwanza Month of Photography. “These photos took me to Senegal and I also got a residency with Deveron Arts in Scotland for two months,” she said. “This programme enabled me to buy new equipment.”

“My inspiration comes mainly from the works of sculptors and painters. I want to express myself in the same manner, but using photography,” she said, adding, though, that photography was hard to sell in Zimbabwe.

“I only make a living from photography because I manage to exhibit my work outside the country and from the workshops I attend,” she said.

“The public’s perception needs to change. Parents should give their children support. With photography you can travel the world.” She also wants to become an ambassador for Zimbabwean photography and build a studio for photographers to use.

Post published in: Arts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *