Take-outs from Ideation Nation creative immersion

The 2021 Basha Uhuru Creative Uprising was once again fired up by Nando’s and the first conference day, Nando’s Ideation Nation, was jam-packed with art, design and music workshops, panel discussions and opportunities for up-and-coming creatives to immerse themselves in the event and connect with other creatives and programmes.

Here are some of the highlights and lessons from the day:

In conversation with Bonga Kwana

One of South Africa’s hottest young stars, Bonga Kwana, shared her journey, from stumbling into music after originally wanting to be a ballet dancer as a kid, to being sponsored by Nando’s in the Bridges for Music Academy programme, where she learned not only about the business of music, but also about taking charge of her own destiny. She was then selected for Nando’s Music Exchange, where she got the chance to travel to London and enjoy mentoring and jamming with musicians from around the globe.

“I don’t have enough English to describe it,” she says. “It was phenomenal. Firstly, I had never left the country. It was eye-opening. And what I took away from the experience was that I don’t have to shrink myself. It was the most affirming experience of my life. It was about coming together with people who have one thing in common – music. And their love for music. It changed my life.”

Bonga says that as a queer person, her music is the way in which she advocates and how she is able to tell stories. “This is how I want to write my history for my kids one day,” she says. “I want my kids to know that it’s perfectly okay to love yourself.”

She says her involvement with poetry and music has led her to understand that she has a responsibility to herself, her family and her future children to love herself. She says being queer in the industry has its challenges. “After my last gig, my partner and I were attacked,” she says. “But with everything that I do, I want to make sure that I don’t sell myself short. Because for the longest time, that’s all I had to do. I want that when I make this music, people see that it’s okay; things do get better. I’m going to fight with my craft. God gave me this beautiful craft and I’m going to use it.”

Watch Bonga’s whole session. 

Artists’ resilience

In a panel discussion led by Mirna Wessels, CEO of Spier Arts Trust, artists who have been involved in the Nando’s Creative Exchange programme over the past few years discussed the importance of resilience in challenging times.

“The root of resilience is knowing why you’re doing what you’re doing,” says Robyn Pretorius, who was part of Nando’s Creative Exchange 2019. “Asking that question has been my motivation. I grew up in the Cape Flats and identity has always been a grey issue because of our past. Finding one’s identity has always been a real struggle. My art has helped me to explore different angles of what makes us who we are.”

Wonder Marthinus, who was part of the programme in the same year, says he stands for resilience. “I do what it takes,” he says. “I don’t want the condition to condition me. What often happens is you understand something and then it conditions you and so I’m afraid to answer into an issue like resilience, which concerns more than just me, But when I talk about resilience, I find I am here now. And that matters. Everything that brought me here is in the context of resilience. And that’s how I face my tomorrows.”

Fanie Buys, who was part of Nando’s Creative Exchange 2020, says he’s found resilience is also about inhabiting the present moment and listening and looking. “That’s one of the things we artists do the best,” he says. “We’re always very aware.”

Nkosinathi Quwe, who was one of the artists selected for Nando’s Creative Exchange 2018, says in 2019 mental health was something he wasn’t even aware of. It was only in 2020, when COVID-19 struck and he was locked up in his apartment, unable to go outside, that mental health came to the fore for him. “I realised that being an artist helped me,” he says. “It freed my mind. Even though I was physically locked down, as soon as I started creating, my mind was set free. It was an eye-opener for me.” He believes art is important in helping those who view it to also free their minds.

The panellists discussed the importance of a professional network to avoid isolation, particularly during the pandemic. Robyn calls this “finding comfort within community”.

Nkosinathi spoke about the importance of developing confidence in oneself as an artist, and Fanie suggested putting aside what people might think, going to every gallery one can and “psychotically introducing oneself to the gallerists”, making new work and posting it online to create connections within the industry.

“Eventually you’re going to find the thing that sets you apart and people will respond to that,” he says.

Watch the full panel discussion on artists ‘resilience, made possible by our sponsors Business & Art South Africa. .

The process of design collaboration

Hosted by Malibongwe Tyilo, this design-focused panel discussion examined the process of design collaboration, using the case study of bringing the Nando’s Hot Young Designer (HYD) benches to life for the Right Here, Right Now! exhibition and creating routes to market for design products.

The panellists were three of the top 10 finalists for the 2020 Nando’s HYD talent search – Katlego Tshuma (the overall winner), Sipho Twala and Thando Nxelewa – and Tracy Lee Lynch, Creative Director of the Nando’s Design Programme and the Creative Director of Clout/SA.

The panel spoke about the importance of not only supporting local design, but manufacturing. “It’s about understanding that there’s a bigger problem we’re trying to solve,” says Sipho. “We need more manufacturers as well as designers, because that will create jobs.”

“Being a designer and a manufacturer is very challenging because you wear many hats,” says Tracy. “There’s a lot of cost and risk involved. And there are a lot of peripheral elements you have to be very professional about for interior designers or architects to trust that you’re going to be able to deliver.”

She says this is one of the reasons the Nando’s Design Programme and Clout SA are looking to facilitate mentorship opportunities in this space. She explains that Nando’s HYD is not just about bringing talent to the forefront, but then helping the designers to build their businesses, and create livelihoods, eventually hopefully employing others.

Katlego says that he’s realised how important it is for designers to understand the manufacturing process. “The important thing is to ask, ‘Is it repeatable?’” he says.

Thando says he hones his design by making his own prototypes of his designs. He’s invested in his own 3D printer, which he says helps him to be progressive in designing for himself and understanding the prototyping process.

Tracy says that many design education programmes focus more on technical design skills than on business skills, which are needed to sustain one’s passion and livelihood, which is where her focus has been. “Things like do you have a tax number? You can’t be part of an ordering system if you don’t have that in place,” she says. “We have that knowledge that we can share.”

Watch the The Right Here, Right Now Experience discussion. 

 

If you missed the design panel discussion lead-up event to Basha Uhuru, Process of Design Collaboration, you can also watch the recording, where Tracy Lee Lynch, Adriaan Hugo and the Hot Young Design finalists discuss how design collaboration works and the importance of building industry networks and relationships.

Hands-on creativity

Attendees got to experience various hands-on workshops, as well as a tour of the amazing creative spaces at Constitution Hill, including Flames Studios, Truth to Power Lounge and Transwerkke studios.

Here are some of the photos from the Mosaic-Maker, Wellness Tools for Creativity and Pattern Block-printing workshops and the creative spaces tour