Monday, 6 February, 2023


Penryn learner shows how maths can be explained through art

Grade 9 Penreach bursary scholar Bongisipho Ngoma was awarded a silver certificate in the Mpumalanga Awards for a MathArt competition.

His art piece is called The Venasi and shows two different sciences – geography and physical science – represented by human figures connected through maths.

Bongisipho wanted to show how maths connected the two sciences that are foreign to each other. In this artwork, maths is the common language in two sciences. Without maths, the two sciences would have never been familiar with each other. 

We study maths so we can understand science and we study science so we can understand the universe we live in, he said.  

By taking part in this competition, Bongisipho learnt that science is not the truth, but rather what we know based on a series of consistent events.

Prior to this, he thought of science as the truth that has been discovered by dedicated individuals who studied ways to get that truth. He further understood the concept of maths being a language, hence he depicted it the way that he did in the artwork.

Bongisipho’s art piece.

Bongisipho started at Penryn when he was in grade 4 and he was privileged enough to be on an academic bursary, which he has kept for the past five years. 

This was the second time Bongisipho’s took part in this competition. Last year theme was “Beautiful Maths” and he also achieved second place.

“I cannot wait for next year’s competition, maybe I will come first,”  Bongisipho said.

The planning alone took him five weeks, and putting together the final art, about as long. He made use of paint, pencils and fineliners in his final piece. 

“I enjoy using different mediums in my art, it gives it more dimension,” he explained.

Bongisipho lives with his grandmother, aunt and her children. They have been very supportive of his art career and have been encouraging him to do better. He started doing art with his aunt when he was much younger, but unfortunately school takes up a lot of his time so he cannot do it with her as often anymore. 

“I would just like to thank all my teachers for encouraging me and making me feel special when it comes to my art. Without them, I would not have come this far,” he added.

After school, Bongisipho wants to study architecture or industrial design at the University of Johannesburg and when he has received his degree he wants to move to the United Kingdom and pursue his studies further.

Bongisipho is one of 21 scholars who currently benefit from the Penreach Shalamula Bursary Programme. The programme promotes a culture of academic excellence by providing comprehensive educational and psycho-social support to vulnerable and highly gifted youth from marganalised communities. To learn more about the programme and support scholars like Bongisipho, please send an email to

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