From hawker to craftsman

[caption id="attachment_204367" align="aligncenter" width="630"] KITTED OUT: Amos Mpofu, front, adjusting the armour of Sibongile Ponase, 17, right. Also taking part in the play are ‘Camelot’ actors Daniel Schink, 16, left, and Ronan de Klerk, 15
Picture: FREDLIN ADRIAAN[/caption]

Walmer Township man toils to create realistic armour for school play

Using train tracks to shape and mould dozens of sheets of galvanised metal, Amos Mpofu has created swords, spears and armour that could fool even the savviest medieval soldier.

Working from his Walmer Township home, Mpofu, 36, spent three days painstakingly labouring over shields, helmets and swords to be used in Victoria Park High’s production of Camelot.

The fortuitous partnership between the school and the artist was the result of a long-standing relationship between drama teacher Mariette van der Walt’s husband and Mpofu, a hawker fashioning bird cages.

Mpofu said: “I was approached by the school and had no idea what they wanted, but when they showed me a picture I quickly designed and created the armour.

“My home is next to a disused train track and I worked from there.

“I hammered away using galvanised metal because it is light. I wanted the students to feel comfortable when moving across the stage.”

Mpofu says his metalwork skill has been in his family for decades.

He has been approached by restaurants, deco shops and businesses around the Bay to make items such as vases, bird cages, washing baskets and buckets used for traditional beer (umqombothi).

Van der Walt said she wanted to be as authentic as possible in all aspects of the musical and wanted the props and outfits to look as realistic as possible.

“I wanted to stray away from using cardboard material for the armour,” she said.

“The armour Amos created really adds to the story [and] looks good under the lights.

“Amos was excited to do something of this nature. He went according to pictures and measurements I gave him. “The pupils are excited and really enjoy strutting around with the armour.”

Grade 12 pupil Sibongile Ponase, 17, who plays a knight in the show, said the armour was comfortable and light. “I’m able to move in it.

It feels like we are real knights and it encourages us more when we are per forming,” he said. Grade 11pupil Daniel Schink, 16, said: “We really get into character when we rehearse.

“We quickly get into the roles we’ve been given because of the shields and swords.” Not only is Mpofu making a living from his talent, but he is also teaching youngsters in the area how to create products.

Mpofu was a hawker for many years, but now that his skill has been noticed he is able to work on commissioned pieces from home.

The school musical opens tomorrow night and will run until Saturday.