I feel so inspired to write this and yet the irony is that I don’t know where to start. I guess the only place then is at the very beginning, as Maria von Trapp said in The Sound of Music: “a very good place to start”. Creative Week Cape Town, which ran from 15 to 23 September this year, was started in 2010 as part of Cape Town’s World Design Capital 2014 bid and aims to build up and support the local creative community by providing platforms for artists, enabling them to present and promote their work.
My creative encounters for the week were at Studio 41 in Gardens, a space that plays host to various artists. I met studio owner Zavick who promptly introduced me to artist Roscoe Reid Masters, one of several creatives based at the studio. In the corner where he is set up, the walls around him adorned with his work, stands a vividly graffitied desk which is actually an old door. This ambitious project brings functional art to a whole new, exciting level and Roscoe talks with zeal about what he does. While looking at the converted door he explains that “I wanted it to be abstract; because I knew it would get cut up, it had to be flexible so that it would read properly”. Zavick and Roscoe have also teamed up with XYZ – a Cape Town based design firm – as a regular collaborator in a noble effort to provide artists with a platform for presenting their work, while ensuring that they are duly paid for it.
Roscoe is a qualified fine artist, having studied at the Ruth Prowse School of Art in Woodstock; but he has always been in the graffiti sector and started spray-painting when he was 15. He has now merely found a way to incorporate his fine art with his street art and I am fascinated to learn that he also makes use of a variety of materials – not only paper and wood but even scrapyard items, allowing him to simultaneously create and recycle.
His creative relationship with Zavick is one of symbiotic bliss, a collaboration of art and business that seeks to foster creativity. He speaks with verve about Studio 41: “there is always something happening in this space”. From poetry nights to live bands it is a fantastic place to meet, learn and observe. Roscoe is also heavily involved with the community: “my work is linked to what I believe in, in terms of giving something back” and he gives in many ways, working with schools in the community in order to bring art to the children; as well as lecturing at CPUT teaching drawing to dental technicians.
Throughout the week Zavick, together with Lisa Huang from Food and Chaatter, hosted a variety of guests at Studio 41 for Creative Week Cape Town. Food and Chaatter similarly aim to provide a platform for people, from all walks of life, to share ideas and they combine their initiative with the unifying element of food.
The first night that I attended was “A Conversation with Michael de Beer”. Michael is the marketing coordinator of Artscape. He shared his journey with everyone and it was interesting to learn of his many travels and the people he had encountered, but most of all I loved listening to his history as an actor involved in every way imaginable from playing the title role in Oliver to dressing actors as part of the wardrobe team. This is also a man seeking to grow the arts and bring it to the people. He is involved in community development through the Resource Centre at Artscape which provides a platform for emerging and unknown artists to exhibit their work. Having become involved in theatre himself at a young age he believes in introducing it to children today as well and does so by bringing the theatre to them. Using his experience and position Michael aims to grow and promote creativity in the Mother City.
The following night was hosted by SA Camera. After being shown some great Sony products the night turned into an impromptu, informal film night as documentary filmmaker Calum MacNaughton showed us clips from various South African documentaries. He absorbed the audience in his world, sharing his passion for “using film as a vehicle to tell stories” and even giving us a special screening of his own work Mama Goema, which won Best Feature Documentary at the Tri Continental Film Festival in 2011. It is inspiring to witness his passion and his willingness to share not only his own work, but that of others as well and he keenly encourages us to attend the various documentary film festivals around the country as a way of supporting the industry and the medium.
Friday night brought a slightly different twist to things with a panel discussion on organic and Earth-friendly food. The contention behind the label “organic” and all it implies is animatedly discussed with restaurant owner Michele Carelse, fitness trainer Noeleen Bridle, recovering couch potato Angela Horn and local farmer and producer Chris Olivier. They discuss how the label “organic” has become a buzz word that is being abused by supermarkets and they also encourage healthy eating and living and, above all, supporting local farmers and produce.
The week was capped off perfectly with a crowning glory hosted by Uneek Mvmnt, who are also based at Studio 41. Uneek Mvmnt was founded by Earl Abrahams, which he runs in collaboration with Andre Bird. They are a lifestyle company who seek to create platforms for people to share their creative journeys – particularly in the areas of music, art and rolling sports. Four creatives shared their stories that night and it was an incredibly inspiring and motivating evening packed with genuine emotion and conveyed with warm humour.
The first speaker of the evening was Bheki Kunene who heads his own company called Mind Trix, which focuses on brand development and web design. His natural instinct for reading a crowd and his playful humour endeared the audience to him immediately, but it was his openness in sharing his history and his creative journey that enraptured everyone. He spoke passionately about our country stating that “South Africa is a really cool place to be.” Above all, however, he tells us to have “a willingness to learn”. By being open himself he encourages us to be open in return, as well as receptive to what goes on around us in order to grow creatively.
Photographer Eric Palmer was up next. Imbued with passion and verve he radiates warmth inspiring the audience to follow their desires and stick to what they love doing: “what makes you good is your passion…I like self-motivated stuff…when everyone is doing what they love, only good can come out of it”. The manner in which he completely immerses himself in his work is evident from his awe-inspiring photographs focusing primarily on skateboarders, cyclists and rollerbladers.
Longboard shaper Kent Lingeveldt talks about his experience as a skateboarder, a passion which led him to start Alpha Longboards which has been running successfully since 2001. He has amazing experiences to share and what really stands out is his approach to his work and his business, the way he succeeds in living his passion: “what I do is a lifestyle, not a business”. Several of his customised boards, showcasing his remarkable talent, were on display including one emblazoned with Desmond Tutu’s face.
Rizah Potgieter is an artist, quiet and unassuming, and by the time it was his turn to talk the wall that Zavick has allowed people to tag had been completely transformed. The speed with which he creates and transforms is breathtaking and despite his initial quiet he is drawn out by speaking about what he loves doing, sharing his history as an artist, expounding his work and encouraging others not to box themselves creatively or even in their approach to life.
There is a whole world of creativity that is thriving in the city and moments like these, pioneered by people with passion and commitment, makes the creative pulse beat and it is up to us to keep it going. The key word here is clearly “platform”. The people and their work need to be provided with the opportunities to be seen and heard. What all these creative personalities aim to do is promote an approach to life that fuels growth and connectivity, whether for an individual , a community or a nation – which has led me to share my story and the people I have encountered with you as we become inspired and awaken to a city, and a country, full of potential.