Last week, we shared our Fircroft’s Famous Faces piece, and what better way to continue sharing our alumni’s success than that of the story of Michael Paul Sibisi. His time here was short but sweet, but his achievements have been limitless. Utilising his experience of apartheid and racism, Paul Sibisi turned tragedy into profound art. 

Michael Paul Sibisi was born in Umkhumbane Durban on 23 September 1948. He went to Chersterville Secondary School where he completed Standard 9 in 1965. He proceeded to study for teaching at Adams Teachers' Training College. His talent was uncovered by Innocent Masondo who was his teacher. As there no art classes at Adams College, he acted on the advice of Masondo and applied to study at Ndaleni Educational Training School under Lorna Peirson with financial assistance provided by the Bantu Education Bursary.

After completing his studies he taught art at Appelsbosch Training College, Oswatini from 1969 to 1971. Between 1973 and 1974, he was funded by a bursary awarded by the SA Institute of Race Relations in Durban to study at Rorke's Drift. He was the winner of the Graphic Art Award at the Black Expo of 1973. In 1974 he held a joint exhibition at the NSA Gallery, Durban, with Vuminkosi Zulu. From 1975 to mid-1977 he taught at Kwathambo Combined School, near Amanzimtoti and then moved to Mzuvele High School in KwaMashu where he still teaches (art, English and guidance).

In 1984 Sibisi received an Operation Crossroads Africa grant which enabled him to visit the USA. In 1987 He spent six months in Britain at Fircroft College in Birmingham studying art education and graphic techniques. Sibisi is involved in setting up cultural art workshops in Natal.

Sibisi's work is represented in the Campbell Collections of the University of Natal, the collections of the Durban Art Gallery, the Tatham Art Gallery and the Universities of Fort Hare and Zululand.


1968: Metropolitan Church Hall, Pietermaritzburg (group).

1970: UFH (Annual Exhibition).

1973: (Black Expo).

DAM (Art SA Today).

Bojo Gallery', Durban (solo).

1974: NSA, Durban (two-person exhibition with Vuminkosi Zulu).

UFH (Annual Exhibition).

1976: Norman Dunn Gallery, Hilton College, Natal (Urban African Art).

1980: NSA, Durban (Members Exhibition). UZ (African Arts Festival).

1981: Gallery 21 (Haenggi Foundation National Art Competition Exhibition).

African Art Centre, Durban (solo).

UZ (African Arts Festival).

(Exhibition of Black Art as Represented in the Campbell

Collections of the University of Natal).

NSA, Durban (members exhibition).

African Art Centre, Durban (solo).

1982: National Museum and Art Gallery, Gaborone, Botswana

(Art Toward Social Development An Exhibition of SA Art).

Bradford, UK (International Print Biennale).

NSA, Durban (My environment - members exhibition).

UZ (African Arts Festival).

1983: UZ (African Arts Festival).

1984: UZ (African Arts Festival).

Bradford (International Print Biennale).

NSA, Durban (Weddings - members exhibition).

1985: Africana Museum in Progress, Johannesburg (Tributaries).

1986: Gallery 21 (Contemporary African Art. Selected works from the Pelmama Permanent Art Collection).

1987: Anderson O'Day Gallery, London, UK (My people are our people - solo).

Paul Mikula and Associates, Durban (group).


1970: UFH Art Exhibition (award).

1973: Black Expo '73 Graphic art award.

1980: Art on the Mole'80 (third prize).

1981: Art on the Mole '81 Competition (first prize).

Haenggi Foundation National Art Competition (fourth prize).

1984: Operation Crossroads Africa Grant.


1986: Portfolio for NAPAC.


  • Sack, S. (1988). The Neglected Tradition, Johannesburg: Johannesburg Art Gallery.
  •  Hobbs P &Rankin E, (2003), Rorke's Drift: empowering prints, (Cape Town), p.224


Do you want to be part of the 110 Stories series? Send us your story by clicking the link below: #MyFircroftStory

Want to find out more about Fircroft? We host Access Taster Days throughout the year, with the next one on Thursday 16 May. Register today to find out more and get involved. Perhaps one day we will showcase your art on our blog series.