Artcollab studio

Artcollab studio


Artcollab Studio produces collaborative art projects with multidisciplinary artists in different creative communities. Collaboration is at the heart of our organisation. Our projects are collectively produced with groups of artists around important social issues from across Southern Africa. Karoo Disclosure (2014) on fracking in the Karoo, South Africa, Ubulungiswa/Justice (2015) on social justice, Ilizw/Nyika/Nation (2019) on land and gender in Zimbabwe and our most recent project Ubumbano/Unity (2021) on gender based violence.

The collaborating artists participating in the Ilizwe/Nyika Collaboration featured at this years Turbine Art Fair include: Cliford Zulu, Deborah Weber, Elgin Rust, Jolene Cartmill, Lady Tshawe, Nomvuyiso Mpofu, Shamilla Aasha, Zandile Masuku.

This project was produced in 2019 through a residency with Artcollab studio artists at the National Gallery of Bulawayo and funded by the National Arts Council South Africa, 2020 and first shown at the National Gallery in Bulawayo in 2021. The collaboration is multidisciplinary work investigating different values and ideologies attached to land, national identity and gender in South Africa and Zimbabwe. The project aims to encourage collaboration between South African and Zimbabwean artists across artistic disciplines. Land is a sensitive issue in both countries, with their colonial histories, struggles for independence and forced removals.

Land and gender are charged topics as both countries struggle with transformation and healing from colonialism and apartheid. The artists developed the project through a series of workshopped processes that allowed them to collectively explore personal and historical narratives around gender and land. The group also chose to explore the historical narrative of the Ndebele Queen Lozikeyi as a central theme in the work and the connection to a historical site of Hillside Dam in Bulawayo. The site it said to be the location of King Lobengula’s favourite royal village to which he escaped to relax in the 19th Century and is now a National Monument, the Hillside Dam Conservancy.

Ilizwe is the Ndebele word for Nation and Nyika is the Shona word for Nation, both tribes are found in Zimbabwe. The Ndebele’s in the Bulawayo region have strong historical ties to the Zulu nation of South Africa. South African History Online, says “subjects of the Zulu leader Mzilikazi, fled north from Natal after his defeat by Shaka in 1817…He is therefore credited as being the founder of the Ndebele in Zimbabwe.”

News headlines around gender-based violence were brought into sharp focus at the time of the residency with the #enoughisenough protests taking place, while at the same time xenophobic attack flared up in South Africa and the ex-president of Zimbabwe Robert Mugabe passed away ushering in a new political era. The approach of democratic collaboration made it possible to sensitively explore these events in relation to our topic as a group over the residency period.

Ilizwe/Nyika Collaboration Artist Bios

Cliford Zulu: Cliford Zulu: Curator, National Gallery of Zimbabwe in Bulawayo. Born and works in Bulawayo Zimbabwe, still young in curating realms he is fascinated by design as such his approach is constructive and open. In curating, Zulu explores ways of building blocks with the artists and his audience enabling the spaces to engage the energy captured in the artwork. To Cliford, art means working with inspiration to discover more energy and transformable ideas. Collaborations and new media practices are my starting point, discharging the energy when it arises in the space where both the artists and the audience are slightly out of their comfort zone. Zulu works on a practical and at aesthetic level, finding himself immersed in this new terminology around art management in the creative sector. As an artist, the transformation is somewhat puzzling yet the idea of growth through networking with artists and audiences in local and international spaces inspires the voyage. To this extent he focuses on building projects from the design perspective with the artists put in motion by collaborative movements through interdisciplinary practices. A lot is gained when it is shared and synergy is just an Academic term for the possible. Putting utopias into action is way more fun.

Deborah Weber: Deborah Weber is the Founder of Artcollab studio, she has a BAFA, Post Graduate Diploma and MAFA from the University of Cape Town, Michealis School of Fine Arts. She and has worked in the creative industries for over two decades from the Bell-Roberts Art Gallery, Brett Kebble Art Awards, Cape Africa Platform Biennale and Design Indaba. Deborah specialises in collaborative arts projects and completes her MAFA research on collaboration in 2019. Deborah has developed collaborative practice methodologies through her research and practice in the field over the past 7 years. From Karoo Disclosure (2014), Ubulungiswa/Justice (2015) and Ilizwe/Nyika (2019) and Ubumbano/Unity (2021) collaboration projects. These collaborative art projects have been shown at national museums across the country as well as galleries and festivals locally and internationally.

Elgin Rust: Elgin Rust received her MFA with distinction from the University of Cape Town in 2010 and has since pursued an oeuvre which includes printmaking, sculpture and performative installations in self-motivated and collaborative work. Her practice focuses on the transformative processes of material which unpacks issues of social concern from judicial structures to the effects of plastics. Rust has participated in solo, group and collaborative exhibitions locally and internationally. Most recently her work was part of the POINTS 4 International Exhibition for Visual Arts hosted by VAS virtual art space in Alexandria, Egypt. Her work is in the Ellerman House Contemporary Art Collection, Sanlam Collection and UCT Works of Art Collection, Cape Town, ZA. Elgin is a long-standing member of Artcollab studio working on collaborative projects from Karoo Disclosure (2014) to Ubumbano/Unity (2021).

Jolene Cartmill: Jolene Cartmill studied Film and Television Production in Cape Town, including editing and camera work, specialised in directing music videos. She has worked in the film industry for many years, specifically in documentary-making and has run her own production company — The Love Picture Company — since 2014. She enjoys exploring many creative mediums including photography, writing, painting and mixed media, and is also a Dance Awake Facilitator — facilitating embodied process work. She collaborated with Artcollab in the 2015 Ubulungiswa/Justice project and the recent Ilizwe/Nyika project in Zimbabwe.

Nomvuyiso M Mpofu: Nomvuyiso Marble Mabi Mpofu is a full time actress for film and theatre, living in Bulawayo Zimbabwe. She has a certificate in visual arts and did her art training at Mzilikazi art and craft center in 1997. In 1999 she won the young female artist award for ‘Artist Against Poverty’ and won best female actress in plays on Sunday and Intwasa arts festivals. She has also been nominated for awards at the NAMA and BAA arts awards in past years. She loves to combine her acting and performance with visual arts which you can see in this new collaborative art project where she plays the Warrior Queen.

Shamilla Aasha Born 1977 Hwange, Zimbabwe. Lives and works in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe
Shamilla Aasha is a practicing artist and teacher of art and design. After many years of working in painting and mixed media, in 2018 Aasha re-engage with her love of textiles through exploration of her multi-cultural background as a Shona and Indian woman living in Matabeleland region of Zimbabwe. Developing complex works addressing issues related to merging cultures and traditional practices and how they influence identity, spirituality and social status for herself and other women in her community. Aasha’s works defy attempts at categorisation, incorporating weaving, tapestry as well as engaging with the idea and history of painting. They emerge as soft sculptures, wall hangings made from found objects as well abstract embroideries. She describes them as sacred objects, a fitting metaphor for her narratives. This metaphor is further expanded on, as she uses sewing patterns, fabric and stitching. This process allows her to create new patterns from the old and with each layer creating a palmistry language. Shamilla has participated in numerous exhibitions locally, regionally and internationally. She is currently part of an ongoing, regional collaborative project, which is interrogating the participation of women in land redistribution in Southern Africa. In addition to artistic practice, Shamilla also continues to nurture creativity minds through her trust-Asha Children’s Trust, an organisation devoted to creating safe spaces for young creatives grow and thrive outside the formal education sector.

Zandile Vanessa Masuku: Zandile Masuku was born in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe in 1983. She took art independently as a 10th subject at O’level and as a 4th at A’level. After obtaining the art subject prize she went on to study Architecture at the University Of Brighton, England graduating in 2008 and moving to London the same year before returning to Zimbabwe in 2009. Whist in the UK she self taught Alto Saxophone, wrote poetry and performed the spoken word. Architecture provided the opportunity to visit multiple scale and notable galleries in England, France and Spain. In 2010 her son was born, which was a pivotal point in her life as she gained ambitiousness which she never had before. In 2012/13 and 2013/14 she was awarded ‘ The Best Female Artist award’ by V.A.A.B. In 2013 she had her first Solo exhibition at The National Gallery of Zimbabwe in Bulawayo entitled ‘Dot connected’. Her First International feature was in 2015 in Alberta, Canada. She has since shown at various galleries in group exhibitions abroad and locally. As an Environmentalist at heart she hopes to create dialogue with others and form more connections for collaborative opportunities.

Lady Tshawe: Born in Bulawayo Zimbabwe in 1990, is an award winning, multi-talented artist. Her artistic style, expression and image embody her abilities, aspirations and achievements. She is a force whose convictions and views about equal opportunities for self-expression influence her writing, theatrical roles, music and conversations. She advocates for expressing herself as a person, which is far from the need to be afforded privileges because she is a woman. She aspires to influence the performing, entertainment and research sectors globally.

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