The Chaukes live in Blinkwater, near Msengi in the Limpopo Province, but very little is known about this family of carvers. They have neither been prolific nor widely published. They have also not been promoted by any single art dealer. Their lack of production would suggest that the family is not dependent on sales for survival and that they were following a local trend.
Albert Chauke is the best known and the oldest member of the family. Totemic, pig-like figures such as The pig lady (plate 268) are the only subject repeatedly carved by him. The earliest in this series (of which four are known) is owned by the University of the Witwatersrand Art Galleries. The two pieces by him in the Campbell Smith Collection appear to be more like copies rather than a development of a theme. The sculptures are a totemic combination of animal and human elements – a nude human with the head of a pig.
Two other members of the family, Johannes and Thyesa, are represented in the Campbell Smith Collection by one figure each. They are small, simple, stylised, frontal and symmetrical. Movement is minimal, only evident in Thyesa Chauke’s The Boxer (plate 267), who holds both arms in the air.Rayda Becker
Albert Chauke Born c. 1953, Limpopo Province. (Sons Johannes and Thyesa, dates of birth unknown). Exhibitions 1989: Ten Years of Collecting, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg 1989: Images of Wood, Johannesburg Art Gallery. Collection University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg.
266 Johannes Chauke Man wood 30 cm
267 Thyesa Chauke Boxer wood and paint 60 cm
268 Albert Chauke Pig lady wood 92 cm
269 Albert Chauke Dog man wood 107 cm