Untitled, from the series 'The Brave Ones' by Zwelethu Mthethwa

The work depicts two boys from the Shembe Nazareth Baptist religious community, a denomination that blends Christian and Zulu traditions.


Digital C-print
150 x 190.3 cm
Art Fund grant:
£5,000 ( Total: £11,745)
Acquired in:
Zwelethu Mthethwa

Its young male adherents adopt special costumes based on the kilt for religious ceremonies (the boys refer to themselves as the ‘Iscotch’). The influence is drawn from Scottish regiments that were present in Natal in the late nineteenth century. The artist’s concerns lie less with religious questions per se, than issues of adolescent identity expressed through religious rites of passage. His series contributes an African dimension to a well-established European and North American tradition concerned with representing teenagers at moments of transition to adulthood. Stunning on a large scale, the photograph makes a complex historical point in an accessible way and it will mark the opening of the National Galleries of Scotland’s first purpose-built space for photography.


The artist.

Venue details

Scottish National Portrait Gallery 1 Queen Street, EDINBURGH Edinburgh EH2 1JD 0131 624 6200 www.nationalgalleries.org

Entry details

50% off with National Art Pass

Daily, 10am – 5pm. Open from noon on 1 Jan. Closed 25 – 26 Dec.