South African artist goes from prison to painting

STORY: Blessing Ngobeni first picked up a paintbrush during a nine-year stint in prison.

Now the South African artist is getting ready for an exhibition in the UK's capital London next year.

But, the 35-year-old says, at first he wasn't sure of his talent.

"I was like, let me just push the time and kill the time my time by drawing other inmates’ portraits and designing birthday cards and writing messages."

This month Ngobeni's pieces were showcased at South Africa's FNB Art Joburg Fair.

It's a leading contemporary art exhibition featuring artists from across the continent - back after a two-year pause linked to the global health crisis.

Ngobeni's latest body of work is titled "Spirit of Water Dancing".

It features a set of antique armchairs and sofas, inspired by an eerie discover in 2016 of a chair in North Georgia, allegedly stuffed with the hair of slaves.

“I recreated the same story using the same couches, printed my work in these couches and stuff in things that are very secretive to the people but what I looked at also there, the beauty of these things that we have, these things that we own, lies a secret, lies DNA, lies memories, lies pain of the other people."

The Art Fair has pioneered Pan-Africanism since inception.

This year it featured exhibitions from galleries across the continent including Zimbabwe, Botswana, Ghana, Uganda and Nigeria.