Corné Nuham

Corné Nuhan was born in East London, South Africa, in 1972. As a boy his family relocated to Johannesburg where he lived, studied and worked until the age of 24, when he decided to leave it all behind and go to, Cambridge, England. In England he discovered the Europe where the real Europeans live; He wanted to experience everything, experiment with everything and it all interested him. He did not consider borders and arrived in Spain, Gipuzkoa, Donostia, in 2007. He did not speak the language and worked in positions in which he was not required to speak the language correctly. He is skilled, extremely skilled with his hands, he flourished, started working in a metal workshop and from there he emerged as a sculptor, in 2014. This could be the biography of a Mr. Human but it isn’t the biography of Corné.

Let us start over.

You write about Corné’s life with colours, forms and sounds of South Africa; these are responsible for the scars that he has always carried on his lively soul. Everything changes into a mystery, the reasons are only unimportant excuses; the important things move like a feline in the most intimate.

With indifference and infinite curiosity he walks with all that is civilized, because… there, far away, his origin, the land of the Zulu, Xhosa, Tswana, Sotho, Swazi, Ndebele, Pedi… all tribes caught in an apartheid, he continues to live; he was a white boy, son of a farmer in a black world. Drama and Genius.
His classroom is the fires made by the coloured men after a hard day´s work, women, lots of children and the elderly. That child is accepted as one of the tribe. Smoke, gleams of fire, native meals, songs, dances, ancestral tales of ancestral lands, long before the colonist even arrived, it was the university…for the boy… for the adolescent… the sculptor.

He hears about the secrets of life in Tswana, Sotho; they are… his Latin and Greek. That which an educated European finds in the texts of Kant, Plato, Heidegger, Saint Augustine, Wittgenstein… he finds between masks, rituals, drums, magic amulets. Sometime a black man gives him, in total secrecy and mystery an initiation, a very special stone that contains the sacred knowledge of the earth on which we tread which Corné has to discover during his life; at a later stage, another elderly man an enigmatic shaped tree root, another mystery, another enigma, another initiation. He listens to each of these men like a recently arrived Moses from the Sinai Mountain, without knowing or any suspicion Corné is becoming a sculptor in the belly of Africa.

His childhood dreams, adolescent landscapes, his inhabitants, his things and his worlds never die while he lives in Cambridge. Understand that Corné is the child of a dream that Nelson Mandela made reality: The white can live together with the black and the black can live together with the white. Nevertheless Corné goes a Little bit further, he fits in and has evolved into a genuine, white black black white man.

In England he meets a Spanish woman (written in small letters but pronounced in capitals), she is the immense air which an eagle man like him needs, half perfect gentleman and half perfect wild man. Since then…him, her and 2 boys.

This time he went to Hernani where a white man (also recently arrive from Mount Sinai) made him a magical proposition: “If you want to, after work hours, you can stay to make your sculptures.” Yes, yes and yes is his response without hesitancy. Today… the sparks and his signature of fire are holes in all of his shirts, hands burnt, blistered and scarred with germinating iron shavings. Now, the Bushveld and the river Urumea are fused together.

Corné’s art works/sculptures… smell, dance, sing, eat with its hands… and if one learns to listen… they say: “Remember…? I belong to what you are, a lot further back in time than where memory will ever be able to reach”

Now, Corné, smile.