Follow up interview with Nokubonga Mabaso.
Tell me about the experience of travelling to Ireland recently. What was the highlight and what have you taken from this trip.
Travelling to Ireland as part of Newcastle Arts Festival exchange was an awesome experience. The people of Northern Ireland were extremely friendly and made our stay a very warm, comfortable and enjoyable one. Newcastle, Northern Ireland, is an idyllic coastal town with a beautiful mountain range- the Mournes- encasing the surrounds. The weather was extremely kind as there was less rainfall than usual so we had the opportunity to see a lot of beautiful sights. We attended arts and music festivals, gallery exhibitions and theatre productions. Outdoor activities included community conviviums, canoeing, hiking and a tour of the city – Belfast
The arts and culture of Northern Ireland is very rich and we were exposed to a wide variety of arts and artists. We made connections with musicians; visual and fine artists and writer’s .We were all excited to be interacting with each other as artists from different backgrounds and shared our indigenous arts and cultures.
The highlight of the experience was exhibiting at the Newcastle Arts Festival: Finding Context. This exhibition showcased collaborative works between artists from both Newcastle’s and was well attended by the local community who came out to show their support. Works exhibited included ceramics, rock art, photography, video, embroidery artworks.
What can Newcastle and the Creative Network anticipate from you in the near future? What are your plans for the remainder of 2015?
I am currently working on self publishing my book and starting my own blog by the end of this year. I am also currently working on a team project which aims to take South African youth to attend and showcase at the World Culture Festival which will be held in India early next year. I will keep Newcastle and the Network updated on the status of these.
Nkule mentioned your art journey is literary in nature-tell me about the shape of your own art and how you express yourself.
I am a writer and have been since a very young age. My love for writing was developed through my passion for reading which emanated from a deep desire to learn more about the world that I found myself in. I explore and express my emotions and state of mind through writing poetry and stories. I have written quite a few short stories and some unfinished novels.
How did you develop an interest in art?
My interest in art developed when I was about five years old. I admired literature and poetry and the creative imagination that it elicited. I read- a lot. Going through the schooling system taught me more about other mediums of expression; I learnt how to play the guitar and keyboard and joined the choir. I learnt about famous artists and the simple extravagance of their very intricate works amazed me. So as I grew, my artistic expression also journeyed with me and I continue to learn and become more interested in art.
Tell me briefly about your creative process- how it goes from an idea in your head to the final product.
My ideas emanate internally from my prevalent perceptions of the world. I am inspired by experiences that I go through, books I read and individuals that I associate with. My attention is sparked by a word, a conversation or a paragraph. This raises questions and thoughts within my mind which i endeavour to find out more about. As soon as I feel confident that I have gained sufficient insight, I put pen to paper. This is generally for longer pieces .With shorter pieces such as poetry and prose; I just allow my feelings to dictate my verses.
Ahead of the Township arts festival, what can people expect this year?
People this year can expect a very full program. We have a fashion parade and workshop organised by Buhle Mpila and Lee Shabalala. A musical band from Nyanyadu called The Radicals will be performing at the festival. Workshops will be held for The Kwa-Zulu Natal museum services and our two artists visiting from Northern Ireland: Austyn Finnegan and Peter Surginor.
We also have a very exciting film programming that was put together by Thuthuka Zondi and Vusi Twala. Thuthuka Zondi is an award winning cameraman and Vusi Twala an acclaimed actor. One of the films that they will be screening is about the Marikana massacre which occurred on 10 August 2012. This film is produced by Rehad Desai and is aptly named ‘Miners Shot Down’
Further, Maninzi Kwatshuve will be having theatre and performance workshops for local groups. Here we are planning to identify a group for continuous development which will work to showcase a production at the Grahamstown International Arts festival next year.
What is your opinion of the arts scene in Newcastle and the surrounds? What makes our town better than the rest?
The arts scene in Northern Kwa-Zulu Natal is in definite need of development. Much more can be done to encourage, develop and showcase arts. This can only be done through initiatives like the Newcastle Arts festival, where youth are encouraged and take charge of their own cultural experiences. I think that’s what sets Newcastle apart form all the other towns in the surrounding areas. We lead by example. The arts festival has grown steadily since it began in 2012. It has made major headway in contributing to the development of the community and local arts scene since then and this is only the beginning.