young artists - any art form - one mic

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Q&A with Lee-ursus

ES: What inspired you to become an emcee?
Lee-ursus: The opportunity to express self, through a medium that has so many elements/ dimensions and the most important being, my belief that hip hop is an art form sent to us by the Creator as a means to build and mobilise ourselves as a people.

ES: What do you find to be the most challenging thing about your art form?
Lee-ursus: I guess I find it a fun challenge, being able to present ‘something’ on a platform that is open-minded, yet so stagnant in terms of language and more specifically in Afrikaans. I personally don’t associate or perceive the language as a tool of oppression while quite a lot of people do. It’s like when you get shot by a gun, you don’t blame the gun, you hold the person using the gun to inflict harm accountable? That to me is the same with the language: hold the oppressor accountable for his ‘ideology’ or ways of thinking.

ES: What is it about hip hop that resonates with you as an artist?
Lee-ursus: The fact that it actually kept me from partaking in a lot of bad activities as a youth as I somehow felt the artform in itself would keep me accountable and still does. I'm definitely not perfect and think I could be up to so much worse without the sense of being ‘looked over’.

ES: What inspires your writing?
Lee-ursus: The fact that I think there’s still a difference between emceeing and rapping. My inspiration therefore striving towards becoming an emcee, I think the journey never ends though. Mine is slow, but I still feel that I am developing holistically, slowly but surely and that sort of excites me, though emceeing and the whole concept annoys me and is draining. More importantly though, I feel that it feeds my spirit.

ES: If there’s one boundary or misconception you could knock down about being a hip hop emcee, what would it be?
Lee-urus: Emceeing, if done as it should is one of the most powerful mediums to reach the youth. I guess hip hop is a divine element allowing for human error in the hip hop of us growing through it all with a positive outcome.

Lee-ursus Alexander - hip hop emcee

Lee-ursus is liriese kapsaal, die skerpste lem.

Lee-ursus is, wel bewus
waarop die kuns berus & dus
kan geen kat kompeteer
met wat hy komponeer
as hy pen & papier kombineer.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Q&A with Nina

ES: How and when did you start writing poetry?
Nina: I always did, since a young child. I'd run to my parents with every three words I'd composed about my hamster or a ditty about a nasty teacher. Writing became a sanctuary when I was a teenager struggling to deal with intense emotion, protracted family illness and a sense of isolation. I was prolific then but hardly shared it with anyone. It was my private space where I could express what I really felt in an environment that had to be contained and managed.

ES: What is the hardest thing for you, about writing?
Nina: Editing myself! I'm learning to be less judgmental as I get older and that applies to how I'm trying to get out of my own way in a lot of spheres in my life. I struggle less about finding the right words. I think I just use simpler words now, pieced together in a way that I hope makes up for that one all encapsulating word or phrase. I don't want to sound trite though - that would just make me sad!

ES: What has your poetry taught you about yourself?
Nina: My poetry has taught me that language is a ladder out of the abyss of emotion. That languishing there is dangerous and not purposeful. Its always been a way for me to exhale, help me unpack and let go of something. Writing poetry is almost like a way of trying to resolve things or just live with them better. Imagery and metaphor lend an added dimension to experiences and help me make connections in creative ways. Poetry on paper also allows me a fluency I don't naturally have because I'm a stutterer.

ES: Which artist or poet most inspires you and why?
Nina: My first artist love was Amedeo Modigliani. I grew up with a huge print of his in our house. The subtle tones and lines were peaceful and seductive yet the almost vacant eyes so haunting. The painting used to scare and attract me all at the same time and make me wonder about the muse's life. It’s that combination that I love about some art. Frieda Kahlo's vulnerability was a shock when I first discovered her, as was the quantum nature of the surrealists. I fell in love instantly. One of my favorite poets is Walt Whitman because he's transcendent by being so grounded...and like me, seems like he fell in love a little with someone almost every day.

ES: If there's one boundary or misconception you could knock down about being a poet and writer, what would it be?
Nina: A misconception is that writing or poetry always needs to be clever and sharp, and dazzle with the finest executions of semantic gymnastics. Simple, honest and heartfelt really works for me.

Nina Callaghan - poet

Since birth I've been a bit melancholic - a sad-sack my mother would say.

My previous occupations of devising and performing physical theatre and working as a children's librarian in a public library put a smile in my heart. Eight years as a journalist in a newsroom almost wiped it completely though, but gave me other incisive skills.

My four-year-old daughter, current job at the Children's Radio Foundation and hospital clowning turns that infinite sadness on its head.

The times when I'm not just about keeping up with everything, I hike in the mountains, make mobiles and scribble poetry late at night after lengthy solitary ruminations...see told ya! :-)

Monday, May 16, 2011

Q&A with Felicity

ES: What inspired or drew you to become a visual artist?
Felicity: I think deciding not to pursue commercial art any further was the final word in my case.

ES: How has being a visual artist changed you/your life?
Felicity: I learn all the time, about MY life, every day, through studying people and things visually. There are answers in line and form.

ES: What have you learnt about yourself through being a visual artist?
Felicity: I have learnt a lot about my Condition: that of being human.

ES: If you could collaborate or work with any artist in the world today, who
would it be and why?

Felicity: Toni you know I loved that artist that showed his stuff that time last year when Nick was reading his stuff? He was a young black guy, sort of illustrator and he made bags too. Do you remember? Well I thought he was brilliant. (Felicity is referring to visual artist, DJ and emcee Mr Fuzzy Slippers who featured at Expression Session in October 2010 - Toni)

ES: If there’s one boundary or misconception you could knock down about being a visual artist, what would it be?
Felicity: That we are all airy arty farty fairy types and can’t function in the real world.

Felicity Purdon - visual artist

Felicity Purdon is a self-taught artist/illustrator living in Diep River. Her recent works include a mural at Westcott Primary School (one of the panels in the photo) and artwork for Nick Purdon’s book “The Road-Shaped Heart”, which has recently been published by Modern History Press.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Q&A with Claire

ES: What inspired you to become a photographer?
I was quite shy as a kid and I guess that taking photographs was maybe a way for me to interact with my world. I loved taking close-ups of plants, but one I remember in particular was of dew on a spiders macro lens so out of focus! I I guess it is a way of looking at the particularities in life and really seeing them.

ES: What is the most challenging thing about your art form?
Claire: For me the biggest challenge has been making the change to digital - there are so many options for shooting! Give me my Nikon FM2 any day. And it is so much more expensive equipment wise.

ES: What has photography taugh you about yourself?
Claire: I really enjoy being the observer and when I am behind the camera I am completely in the moment which is a good place to be (I seldom achieve that level of single minded focus in any other way).

ES: If you could collaborate or work with any artist in the world today, who would it be and why?
Claire: That’s a hard question to answer because there are so many. I have done a piece with my friend Lisa Nettelton who is the driving froce behind Molo Mimi ( I took a photo of an aloe and had it printed on fabric which she then worked over. Another friend casts plants in silver and makes jewellery out of them and also makes bigger pieces-we were going to explore our mutual love of the natural world and the effect it has on us. Unfortunately we just spent hours talking about it and it never happened. I love design so I guess what has come out of answering this question is that I would like to work with anyone who's work I admire to find common ground and create something unique that is an expression of who we are. Somehow the idea of working with someone who I know is more appealing than working with a world famous somebody. I think the intimacy would make for a more meaningful collaboration. Not that I'm opposed to the idea of working with anyone!

ES: If there’s one boundary or misconception you could knock down about photography, what would it be?
Claire: That anyone with a camera can be a photographer! It’s a good thing that digital has demystified photography but it’s also led to a lowering of the standard of some kinds of work because people decide they don't need a professional. Often they don’t have the technical understanding of, for example what different lenses do, and produce inferior pictures!