Where did you spend your childhood? Mainly in London - I studied and lived there. I spent my summers in the U.S. with my extended family and spent parts of the year in Johannesburg from age 11-16.
Your formative years were spent (doing what)? In school. I went to an amazing international school in London called Marymount. I lived with girls from all over the world for most of the academic year. It was a very expansive learning experience - I wasn’t even aware at the time the impact it would have on my life till this day. While there, I studied mainly, but also found my voice and confidence through acting, singing and performance.
Describe your current work? My work is an engagement with the preconceptions of light and dark - the misconceptions of “blackness". The conversation extends far beyond race - but rather blackness on a universal level. I am working to shift the way that people view the value black, in juxtaposition to what is far more lauded: gold.
What informs your choice of materials - or no materials at all? My materials are chosen to convey a narrative, a history, and propose a future. Gold, the constant in my work, is chosen because of the storied history that mankind has had with it from a spiritual level since its discovery. I use it also for the elemental, cosmic qualities that it wields. I am now also experimenting with other less stable metals and elements.
What is the underlying thread or idea that unites all of your work? Transcending the mundane to reclaim the inherent power within us that I feel we have lost.
Who or what is your greatest inspiration? I have dear friends and a mentor that is a constant source of inspiration. I keep a tight circle - and they are all muses for me in various ways. And then outside of that, I look to scientists/astrophysicists such as Tesla, Carl Sagan, Elon Musk, Stephen Hawking, Neil DeGrasse Tyson. As for contemporary artists that I am inspired by currently, they include Kara Walker, James Lee Byars, William Kentridge, Kerry James Marshall, Chris Ofili, Rothko, Louise Nevelson.
The biggest single influence on your way of thinking and creating? My mentor has changed the way I think about myself in relation to my art, and the art world in general - massively. Since we met there has been a seismic shift in my thinking and therefore my trajectory. There have been many monumental shifts in my life and career thus far, but his input has been most important recently. I champion the idea of a mentor.
Your favorite work to date? I haven’t made it yet. Not sure if I ever will.
How would you best describe yourself? Focused, driven, never satisfied, ambitious, spiritual. Far more intellectual than emotional.
Who is your favourite icon - a leader, a designer, an artist? Don’t have a favorite - my focus is constantly shifting depending on what I am thinking about with my work. At this very second I am very taken by Kara Walker. I am seeing her work with new eyes. But my focus is constantly shifting.
An important life lesson that resonated with you? Trust yourself completely and don’t listen to what everyone else says. You know best. You must work on tuning yourself to your inner voice to find your truth and express it.
What are you working on next? A solo public installation/exhibition in association with New York University to debut in New York City in Spring 2017. My debut solo exhibition in London in the fall of 2017. And many other exhibitions throughout the year. However, I would like to take some time to really just be in studio after a year of lots of traveling.
What are you drawn to at the moment? Building environments around my work i.e. not only focusing on the works on paper and canvas, but also the environments and situations within which the works are housed. I want to create a complete vision. In the future, the spaces I exhibit in will be created around the work.
Three young South African or African artists you think we should be watching? Nandipha Mntambo, Mary Sibande and Athi-Patra Ruga.
Which galleries represent you? None. That is by choice up until now.
What is The Face of the Future? Please tell us about it and how you will be involved. It is a partnership between the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and Noirwave - the first of its kind. I work with Petite Noir (Yannick Ilunga) and Rochelle Nembhard of Noirwave all the time - and our working relationship will continue on into the future. This is a long-term initiative to focus on the potential of young girls, aged 10, as that is a pivotal moment in their lives that determines their future success or failure. Empowering young girls at that age is imperative to ensure that the next generation is prepared, educated, and granted the opportunities that will allow them to be beneficial members of society. It is a preemptive measure to assist in their future flourishing, as they are the future. We are helping the UN via the channels of art and performance - so I have recently donated a work to the UN, and will also mentor and guide young girls who would like to delve into the arts.
Will we be seeing you in SA again soon? I have been back twice this year after a long time away. It was a pleasure returning in November for the Black Portraiture[s] Conference with Artnoir. I am sure I will be back very soon - probably before the summer of 2017. I love South Africa - it is a former home and feels familiar to me.