“I used to believe that art was only done by exceptional people, in a world of ideas, philosophy and faith. Art gives me freedom, peace and beauty,” Mooketsi Setshedi said at the viewing of his artwork. Born in Mochudi, Setshedi lives and grew up in his home village of Mochudi as well as attending both primary and secondary school there. According to the 23-year-old gentleman, art allows him to survive and get involved with others. It also encourages him to move around with an artistic eye. It has contributed a lot in his life because it has helped him to be visible in the society and has brought visible credit to Botswana because he sold several sculptures of wildlife to tourists.
Setshedi started as a painter before venturing into sculpture. He got his training in sculpture in 2004 while attending a course conducted by Mansudae Overseas Project, a North Korean Company that was commissioned by the Botswana government to build the monuments of the three Dikgosi. The young man stressed the point that he does not copy from anyone; his sculptures are original. They depict wildlife and are figurative. He admires and transforms animals into sculpture. He is still developing and he has started to break away from making animals only and decided to start figurative sculpture.
“My interaction with the Koreans made me enjoy the figurative sculpture,” said Setshedi. His figurative sculpture has a direct aesthetic effect, independent from other sculptors. His sculptures are outstanding in shapes and combinations of their parts. The face is well done and the proportion and form are also good to admire. The sculpture has the pure expression of the life-force. He finds expression through materials as well as the use of surface, colour, and volume. His sculpture depicts an African character.
The artist works from original photographs. Sometime he asks his friends to pose for him. He prefers working from life because it is a challenge unlike photographs. The plaster of Paris is his favorite material because it’s not difficult to carve. He will then apply a coat with bronze powder. He emphasizes that bronze is a new material used by artists in Botswana and that makes it a challenge to him. Other sculptures are made out of cement. According to him, the sculpture made from cement is ever lasting and resistant to water. He further challenges himself by making sculpture from mixing soil and glue. His sculpture has gained local and international recognition. He was invited to a sculpture exhibition in 2006 which was held in ChangChan, China, to showcase his sculpture.
Setshedi has made local impact by winning several awards such as South Central Art Teachers Association (SCATA), a regional art competition, in 2003. He also scoped position one at the Kgatleng District Youth Rally in 2005 which was organized by the Department of Youth and Culture. He concluded by encouraging artists in Botswana to work hard to be visible as there is nothing that comes easily. Currently, Setshedi is working on a commission from the National Museum, Monuments and Art Gallery to mould a life size donkey. This is his second major commission. He made a bust of Sir Seretse Khama which was sold outside Botswana.