Somandla Ntshalintshali was born on 13 September 1980 at Ardmore Farm in the Champagne Valley, KwaZulu-Natal, where he attended Mountain View Primary School.
Somandla was working as a gardener at Ardmore when Moses Nqubuka offered him the opportunity to sculpt in the studio. He leaped at the chance and started at Ardmore in 2003.
He comes from a creative family and is related to Bonnie Ntshalintshali, the first Ardmore artist.
He says: “When I was cutting the grass and working in the garden, I used to go into the studio during lunch time and play with the clay. When I was playing with the clay, Fée Halsted, founder of Ardmore, came and she commended my pieces. Then I knew that I could do it. I felt the power to carry on and I felt happy.”
Somandla is a brilliant sculptor and very concerned with form. He chooses to sculpt animals with a natural lyrical grace: elephants with their long trunks, giraffes and cranes with their long necks. Even crocodiles, lizards, chameleons and porcupines are curled into bowls and vessels with a swirl of movement and grace.
In 2011 a baboon platter modelled by Somandla was presented to the Empress of Japan by Max Sisulu, Speaker of the South African National Assembly, and the same year his Leopard and Lion Hunt Urn was selected to represent South Africa at the Korean Biennale, where he won a merit award with painter Jabu Nene.
In 2014 one of Somandla’s large elephant vases was chosen for a photographic shoot for a decorating magazine in London and the year after a similar elephant vessel was selected by Southern Guild to represent South Africa at Art Basel, Miami. It was sold at the opening night.
In 2015 Somandla created pieces for Ardmore’s 30th anniversary Masterworks collection.