Artists Proof Studios plays an important role in nurturing artists and giving them a platform. What do you remember about your time there? Artists Proof Studio was one of the best things that happened to me as an artist, I still go back there and it’s like home to me. When I first got there I stayed in my own corner and I kept to myself. But with time, I interacted with other artists, exchanged ideas and started gaining more confidence in my work.
When I was doing my 3rd year at Artists Proof, I decided I wanted to be a full time artist. The good thing about being there was that I was surrounded by artists like Philemon Hlungwane and Nelson Makamo. I saw them doing it, achieving success as full time artists and that gave me hope for myself too, that I could make this a full time career.
We were lucky to have these guys sharing their ideas with us, their wisdom, saying ‘do this’ and ‘have you tried that’ and that gives you confidence in your ability. That’s what I loved about Artists Proof that we have successful artists mentoring younger artists.
That is still so important to me because I see the impact it’s had in my career. Growing up in my community of Orange Farm we didn’t have those role models and being an artist wasn’t something that was valued in my community. It was when I was at Artist’s Proof that I grew as an artist and felt confident that this is what I would do with my life.
What drives you as a person? I have always been shy and hated speaking. The one thing I knew about myself was that my weakness was my communication skills, my ability to talk to other people and confidently express myself. When I’m making art I can portray what I want to say. I feel I can’t truly express myself in a powerful so I let my art speak for me. My art is my voice, my words, my expression to the world.
I’m also driven by the fact that today in South Africa you have a situation where young people don’t believe in themselves and they don’t have hope for their future. They are doing drugs and drinking alcohol because they are saying there is nothing for them. They come from nothing; they can’t make anything of their lives.
What I do is not just about me. I want to prove a point to kids who are from the same background as mine, that you can be successful and make something of your life. I go back home and share what I have done with young kids in my community. I want to show them that it can be done.
Your work captures everyday life and what you see in Joburg and it’s surroundings. Tell me more about what inspires you? One of the themes behind my work is based on my relationships with people. In my work, I explore feelings of connectivity and isolation. My attempt is to build trust and closeness with others through my artwork. There are never human figures in my images. Electric poles, plugs and cables feature a lot in my work, these are metaphors for life, energy, hope and movement.
The subjects are seen in different contexts, all outside, in a city or landscape. This gives the context and the atmosphere is created by the sky. I’m used to being alone and being with myself. I think this is the reason why you will find that my work is so empty; it’s only now that it’s starting to have more movement and I’m adding human figures in my work. It’s a reflection of my upbringing, that sense of being alone and as I grow older that longing to find connection. I think this is something people who like my work relate to the most.