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Pump House, Little Brenthurst

  • Object:


  • Place of origin:

    South Africa (made)

  • Date:

    1995 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    M'Pai, Clifford, born 1937 (artist)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Pencil and coloured crayons on paper

  • Credit Line:

    Given by Mr and Mrs Oppenheimer through the assistance of Clare Cooper

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Prints & Drawings Study Room, level F, case DR, shelf 20

Clifford M'pai, born in 1937, is largely self-taught although encouraged to attend evening classes by his employer. He now has a considerable reputation as an artist both in South Africa and abroad.

His drawings have a 'naive' quality yet are significantly atmospheric. M'pai never introduces human figures into his drawings, to do so would imply some comment on property and ownership as they would have to be depicted as black or white, but the subject matter seems to speak for them. Here he has drawn the private electrical generator, hidden away in the grounds of Little Brenthurst, the estate of the family for which he works in Johannesburg. Writing about M'pai, Alan Crump, Professor of Fine Art at the University of Witwatersrand, notes the sense of silence in many of M'pai's images and goes on "This is a world of structured fantasy, which protects us from the often fearsome and alienating existence beyond its borders. It is also a statement of what M'pai suggests the world should become. Though much of the urban subject matter derives from the splendour of the Brenthurst gardens the artist does not altogether escape from the reality of shifting social conditions and insecurities which surround his own existence." [See also E. 857-1997]

Physical description

A picture of conjoining walls of orange and brown coloured stone or brick in which an electrical generator is situated. The walls are in sharp receding perspective. In the background are green bushes.

Place of Origin

South Africa (made)


1995 (made)


M'Pai, Clifford, born 1937 (artist)

Materials and Techniques

Pencil and coloured crayons on paper

Marks and inscriptions

'Clifford M. Mpai / 26 March 1995'
Signed and dated in lower right


Height: 29.6 cm slightly irregular, Width: 51 cm slightly irregular

Descriptive line

Drawing by Clifford M'pai (born Polokwane, South Africa, 1937), 'Pump House, Little Brenthurst', pencil and colour crayon, 1995

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Victoria and Albert Museum Department of Prints, Drawings and Paintings Accession Register for 1997


Paper; Crayon; Pencil



Subjects depicted

Electrical generator; Property; Landscape


Black History; Drawings; Africa; Gardens & Gardening


Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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