The late renowned Mosarwa artist Coex’ae Qgam (Dada) has been given an award posthumously in the best in visual arts at the President’s Day Competitions (PDC).
Better known as Dada be her peers, Qgam was part of the Kuru Art Project, a stable of highly accomplished Basarwa artists who practise their trade at a facility in D’Kar. Dada was born in 1934 in Gantsi, Botswana. She attended just three months of primary school, later working as a child minder and domestic help.
Qgam had extensive knowledge of her people’s traditions, story telling and healing practices. Her first exposure to textile art was in Namibia, when an employer taught her needlework and embroidery.
Fluent in five African languages, Qgam joined The Kuru Art Project in 1990 as a translator. Having had difficulties in explaining techniques verbally, she started illustrating them herself and so created her first paintings.
Qgam’s compositions are informal and she worked in a direct, clear way. Her use of colour was bright and bold, which contrasted to the monochrome surroundings of the Kgalagadi where she lived.
Like most of the women at the Kuru Art Project, she liked to depict the daily work of the San women, like the collecting and preparing of veld foods. Various plants and bird forms usually filled up her large canvasses. She died in 2008 in Gantsi.