Nikiwe Dlova

Nikiwe Dlova is a multi-disciplinary Hair artist from Diepkloof in South Africa. She produces creative hairstyles, headpieces, and artwork using synthetic hair extensions, wool, fabric, and beads (amongst others). Nikiwe is fervently driven to tell African visual stories using hair as a symbol/language.

Nikiwe urges us to own our crown with pride. She has been able to attract national and international acclaim because of the originality of her work. Design Ndaba 2021 spotlighted her as an emerging creative in hair artistry. She has styled musicians such as Msaki, Mpho Sebina just to name a few, recently she created a headpiece for Kelly Rowland for Brutal Fruit’s ‘You Belong’ campaign. She is also Colorbloc’s  LA Magazine Cover girl ‘Don’t Touch My Hair’ issue. Lately she can be seen on Honey DSTV channel as a resident judge for a Hair competition TV show . Nikiwe’s creativity knows no bounds and she showcased that at her first solo exhibition in Sept 2021 called The Royal Hair Salon.

Artist Statement

I didn't know I liked making art until I made my own hair my canvas, and each time I styled it the hairstyles would get more and more creative. Researching ancient African civilizations made me realize how sacred our hair is and how versatile it can be (symbolically) in communicating social status,spirituality,marital status,age, family background etc. This knowledge (and more) inspired me to express hair art in hairstyles, headpieces/hats,chairs, etc. due to my observation of limited hair expression in society.

My work goes beyond being expressed in someone’s head to rather exist in one’s space as a luxury art piece to symbolize beauty,identity,versatility,craftsmanship and patience. My love for fashion has always weaved itself in my hair journey so it made sense to stitch together what I learnt in Clothing management with hair and turn it into textile art. Hand stitching synthetic braids on cotton canvas,velvet or weaved background re-ignited my love for texture and sewing. Expressing textile art through portraiture has made me aware of the past and how I can merge it with the present to create a visual language that can live in the future to remind people to never forget African craftsmanship in hairstyles,weaving,african masks,symbol writing,headpieces,fashion and art.

Introducing weaving to my creative process was effortless because the skill has been around in Africa for centuries but not many young people practice it,this was a way of celebrating another hand skill in a contemporary way. The process of weaving a basket for instance and plaiting someone’s hair is more or less similar, you need to be attentive,neat,patient,intuitive…to me it shows how powerful our hands are, how you can take raw materials and turn it into a luxury object that has soul due to the amount of time and energy spent on it,it’s an alchemy indeed. The colours I use highlight African royal colours,motifs,symbol writing or to accentuate the detail,leopard print is used to symbolise royalty.

Nationality: South Africa
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