Dr Elbé Coetsee who has an unwavering passion for local craft, completed a PhD at the University of Pretoria focussing on demographic characteristics and entrepreneurial attitudes of craft artists in South Africa, for which she received academic honorary colours.
In 1994 Coetsee established the Mogalakwena Craft Art Development Foundation to provide sustainable employment for previously disadvantaged people. The foundation specialises in the training of multiple skills including embroidery, beadwork, candle making, sewing, basketry, pottery and basic computer literacy. Practical first aid courses, AIDS awareness and care training, children’s art workshops and basic principles of cultural tourism, are also taught at the foundation. The foundation has collaborated with designers such as Haldane Martin and Paola Lenti to produce the woven Zulu Mama and Afra chairs respectively.
Ten years later, The Mogalakwena Craft Art Village opened and during 2006 Coetsee also founded the Mogalakwena Research Centre for African Ecology and Anthropology. She subsequently also established The Mogalakwena Gallery and Showroom in Cape Town in 2008.
In 2002 her book Craft Art in South Africa was published by Struik and voted onto the Publisher’s Choice List at Exclusive Books. Coetsee’s second book, Craft Art in South Africa – Creative Intersections will be available in March 2015.