Photo Credit: Natania Botha

What do mannequins, art, environmental activism and a passion for humanity all have in common? Artivist Natania Botha and her incredible story:


Global (26 February 2024) — Looking back on it now, artivist Natania Botha’s first important encounter with mannequins was a nuanced note of foreshadowing. Of course, she hardly knew then that one day, the humble task of dressing mannequins at a local retailer would later spark something possibly world-changing—both for the artist and the environment she’s dedicated her life to. But, no good story ever begins with a clearly paved path.

A Backstory Beginning in Brits

A teenager in her hometown of Brits, Natania moved into the ‘real world’ quickly after life’s responsibilities thrust her into the workforce. She had to leave school behind and pick up a job, which meant finishing up her education at night. Said job happened to be at Woolworths, where Natania first met her future canvases—mannequins.

Natania notes a connection to the objects we so often take at surface value. For her, they were and are a “symbolic reflection of the human form.” Not only would they eventually become an imperative part of her craft, but her time at the retailer taught her a unique appreciation for a key seed: visual representation.

Says Natania, “The act of transforming store displays became a canvas for my creativity, laying the groundwork for future endeavours.”

At 19, Natania left Brits behind to make her way to the big city—Pretoria. This was her leap into a new world, a corporate world where once again, inklings of the future presented themselves in subtle ways.

Working in sales as a manager, she was afforded the opportunity to travel and connect her to different ways of life and experiences of humanity, another key seed.

With these two key experiences seeded in her soul, a walk on the beach in Durban’s bluff would plant the third pivotal seed moment and the one that catapulted everything into action.

The Impact Years

“As I strolled along the beach, I was confronted with a distressing sight—the shoreline blanketed in plastic waste,” Natania recalls of the life-changing moment in 2017.

An immediate resolve was spurred in her to address the environmental crisis in front of her, and so she initiated all her might to mobilise resources and citizens and raise awareness.

Natania’s efforts mattered. In fact, they became a movement big enough to earn her recognition from the Wildlife and Environment Society of South Africa (WESSA), followed by her later appointment as the Head of Membership.

Her role as an environmental and social change activist had taken form, and soon her touch began to weave its way all over the country and into rooms with global communities of environmental doers and thinkers.


Natania became a voice for South Africa when she represented us at the Africa Youth Conference in 2018 and a crafter of the future when she helped launch the Sustainable Development Goals Classroom.

By 2020, she had sculpted her position in South Africa’s green entrepreneurship support through Indalo Inclusive. Here, she was the brain behind important building blocks for programmes, including a collaboration with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) focused on capturing on-the-ground environmental initiatives.

Her accomplishments in environmental spheres grew—she was one of the Mail & Guardian’s 200 Young South Africans and one of 12 Leading Women in CSI in 2021 among others—but these are only glimpses of the mark she’s made when it comes to both social and environmental upliftment.


Come 2022, Natania embarked on another massive journey to document the impacts of climate change for the United Nations Development Programme’s (UNDP) Climate Promise. This odyssey took her across the country as far as the Richtersveld, where she spent time documenting and filming the wonders and woes of South Africa.

While she affectionately notes it was not a journey for the faint of heart, it certainly brought about an unending appreciation for South Africa’s diverse landscape.

“The stars at night look so different when you do a cat scan of the universe,” she adds.

Putting the Art in Earth

With her role as an environmental thinker and leader imprinted on South Africa, Natania began thinking about different ways to share the messages guiding her path.

Connecting the dots between visual strength, humanity, the environment and her 2022 adventure, she became enthralled to water her passion for art—the ultimate medium for such multifaceted experiences.


Her voice and experiences married in the form of mosaic mannequins sculptured to the sounds of classical piano. One became 40, and 40 became her first collection—’Reflections of Resilience’.

Much like South Africa’s people and landscapes, the differences in the works —right down to the tiniest mosaic tile—unite them as a collective symphony Natania explains as her heart laid bare. Individually, there are broken pieces like tired parts of a heart working endlessly to restore nature and humanity. But together, they are visual resilience.

Her mannequin masterpieces—a kaleidoscope of colours and textures—you might’ve guessed, are fused with meaning. If you pay attention, you’ll find odes to David Bowie and William Yeats. But mostly, you’ll find an ode to the Earth, present even in her material choices.


“The very materials I utilise reflect a deliberate choice to counter the detrimental impacts of fast fashion…mannequins play a pivotal role in perpetuating this cycle,” the artivist explains, adding that by incorporating antiques like tea cups, vases and plates sourced from around the world and locally, she is able to breathe life into what would’ve otherwise ended up in landfills. 

‘The opus of the collection—The Last Correspondent’—stood as a plea to world leaders for transformation in eco and social justice—just as the mannequins had been transformed. Fittingly, it was presented to the United Nations upon completion.

But, Reflections of Resilience is also a call to all of us.

A prized set of pieces, art patrons, collectors or retail stores who wish to acquire the private collection would not just be supporting an incredible story come together at last but be part of supporting a new one, one that might just change the world.

Reflections of Resilience will be exhibited at Calisto’s Restaurants (Gillview, Goldreef City and Silverstar Casino) where dining spaces will also enjoy their role in transformation as they become immersive art galleries.

  • Calisto’s – Gold Reef City – March, 1st – starting at 18:00 pm
  • Calisto’s – Silverstar Casino – March, 7th, Starting time: 18:00 pm – This event is a dine-in experience, you can find out more here.
  • Calisto’s – Gillview, the week of the 29th of March 2024.


Sources: GTG Interview 
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About the Author

Ashleigh Nefdt is a writer for Good Things Guy.

Ashleigh's favourite stories have always seen the hidden hero (without the cape) come to the rescue. As a journalist, her labour of love is finding those everyday heroes and spotlighting their spark - especially those empowering women, social upliftment movers, sustainability shakers and creatives with hearts of gold. When she's not working on a story, she's dedicated to her canvas or appreciating Mother Nature.

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