Mariapaola Mcgurk


Mariapaola McGurk (fondly known as MP) was born in Johannesburg in 1980. Mariapaola McGurk has over twenty years’ experience within the creative economy of South Africa. She is a practitioner, researcher, lecturer, and consultant who strives to contribute positively to the growth and development of this diverse and exciting sector while pursuing her visual arts practice.


  • Phd Candidate – Digital Transformation –  The University of Johannesburg JBS (2023 -)
  • Executive MBA – Henley Business School with merit (2016 – 2019)
  • Honours in Visual Arts cum laude – The University of Johannesburg (2010 – 2011)
  • Business Management Certificate – Unisa 2008
  • Diploma in Visual Arts – Wits Technikon (1999 – 2001)


Subject Matter 

Mariapaola McGurk has specialised in paper cutting for the last twelve years. Paper cutting is an art form dating back to the 4th Century after the invention of paper by the Chinese. It is an artform that can be found in many countries as a traditional expression that celebrates religion and culture. Given that paper cutting is a very uncommon practice within South Africa, McGurk has had to learn to develop the skill without guidance. This has led to a very contemporary interpretation of a traditional artform that has conveyed her intertwining concepts of light and shadow, and simplicity and complexity. 

Exhibition History

 Solo Exhibitions

2008 – ‘A Painter’s Journey’, Springs Art Gallery 

2022 – ‘Finding the Pattern’, Candice Berman Gallery, Johannesburg South Africa

Group Exhibitions 

2023 – ‘Matterings and Mutterings’, Gallery 2, Johannesburg South Africa

2023 – ‘What I Saw in the Water’, BASA and CCI Gallery, Johannesburg, South Africa

2022 – Group show, Artyli Gallery, Johannesburg, South Africa

2022 – TACS Print Exchange, Springs Art Gallery, Ekurhuleni

2021 – Group Show, Julie Miller Contemporary, Johannesburg, South Africa

2021 – TACS Print Exchange, Parkhurst, Johannesburg South Africa

2021 – ‘Moments of Fragility’, Turbine Art Fair, Julie Miller Contemporary

2010 – 2020 – Numerous community and group exhibitions

Research Papers

  • Transwerke Studios: A case study on using abandoned buildings to develop creative entrepreneurship (available as PDF). 

 Awards and Achievements 

  •  2022 – Thami Mnyele winner of art on paper category, Ekurhuleni, South Africa
  • 2022 – Commissioned artist for the Business and Arts South Africa (BASA)Awards
  • 2022 – Being appointed as a board member for the Arts and Culture Trust
  • 2021 – Selling out all visual art works at the Turbine Art Fair 2021
  • 2020 – Business and Arts South Africa (BASA) Awards with the Henley Business School for the Resurgence Project which offered ten visual artists access to the market and an opportunity to make their independent mark at the business school while receiving design thinking and entrepreneurial workshop training.
  • 2020 – Chosen as one of the Daily Maverick Activist Citizens
  • 2019 – Business and Arts South Africa (BASA) Awards with the Market Theatre Foundation and Exclusive Books for the first Pan African Adult and Children’s Reading Rooms at the Windybrow Arts Centre.
  • 2017 – Business and Arts South Africa (BASA) Awards with Flanagan and Gerard Property Developers for the Springs Mall art project which offered photographers and visual artists the opportunity to sell their works to the property developers and have them permanently displayed through the shopping mall.
  • 2017 – BASA CASE STUDIEs : Best practice on partnerships with creative organisations and corporates.
  • 2016 – Receiving the Dean’s bursary from Henley Business School for an Executive MBA. The bursary was awarded based on the social and creative work done through my company – The Coloured Cube.
  • 2011 – Accepted in the ‘South Africa 10 x 12’ Benetton Art Collection

Articles Written By and About Mariapaola McGurk

Mail & Guardian Though Leaders: Creatives can shake up bureaucratic thinking – uprising-taking-place-at-constitutional-hill/ 

Daily Maverick: Quest for Smarter Solutions- for-smarter-solutions/

City LifeArts: Body of Works at TAF Speaks to Disconnectedness: Anxiety and Loss Due to the Pandemic           body-of-work-at-taf-speaks-to-disconnectedness-anxiety-and-loss-due-to- pandemic/


City Life Arts: Mariapaola McGurk Appointed to Transform ConHill into a Creative Hub: into-a-creative-hub/

Constitution Hill: Letters to Artists During Covid

Times Live: Inside the Creative Uprising Taking Place at Constitution Hill creative-uprising-taking-place-at-constitutional-hill/

Creative City South: Culture led Placemaking in Johannesburg – Practitioner’s Perspective


The Makersway Project: The Value Creativity can bring to the City of Johannesburg bring-to-the-city-of-johannesburg/

Constitution Hill: The Eco-System Rising Conference:

Media Update: Creatives in Conversation: Family Ties – Mariapaola & Trevor McGurk – conversation-kickstarts-the-interdisciplinary-discourse

Click here to view artist profile on Artsy

Original Artworks

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