Where were you born?
I was born in Lubumbashi, Democratic Republic of Congo and moved to Johannesburg, South Africa in 2006.
How did your upbringing influence your practice?
During my childhood like most children, I enjoyed playing with dolls. I always admired my mother’s passion for beauty and fashion. While I was growing up I would see that she would do make up for weddings, tailor garments, paint nails etc. I was certainly a mummy’s girl, I was always around her and I remember listening to her conversations with her clients - this informed my perceptions of femininity. Although I wasn’t very girly growing up, I always had an appreciation for it.
How did your art career begin?
It was inspired by my family – by my mother and by my brother who would draw and paint and create comic books at home. I enrolled at the Artist Proof Studio because I wanted to further my understanding of print-making and various art techniques. I began doing this part-time, I then later decided to commit to it full-time. I have been able to develop the majority of the techniques that I use in my work.
Femininity and beauty standards are stronger themes in your works. Why have you chosen to centre these theme?
I was in class when we were briefed for a project. We were told to come with materials and objects that we are fond of or relate to. The objects I had collected from home comprised of a Barbie doll, hair clips, mascara, nail polish and a renaissance bust. I questioned why this was and investigated why there were so many similarities between the objects. From this point, I decided to dissect the relationship I had with Barbie dolls and the way I idolised them. At that time, I did think it was strange that I still played with dolls at the age of 14. But now looking back, was it really that weird? I see it as a comment to society about the way femininity is policed and the impression this has on young girls.
I wanted to dissect the idea of beauty by looking at the Barbie doll. I found it to be an education of its own and exemplified a larger issue about the role on the woman in society, and when I delved deeper there were many connotations related to the domestic space, colonialization, racism and more.
When we look at your works we notice it has been formed using multiple mediums and layers. You also manipulate scale in your works; some figures are predominant and centred in the foreground and others have a subtle prominence and make up the background. Why have you chosen to present these elements in this way?
Within my work I depict my character, there is a lot happening in the work which is a reflection of who I am as a person. I try to evoke an emotion with the artworks - when the composition is busy and the scale has been manipulated this evokes a type of feeling within the works. There is a representation of thoughts and stories.
How have you managed to stay motived and create new works during the pandemic - any tips and advice for other artists experiencing a creative block?
The first place I find myself is in honesty. You have to be honest with yourself. If you’re having a hard time thinking or a hard time creating, just be honest with the fact that you’re at this point right now and you may feel defeated. It’s okay not to feel strong all the time. If possible, you have to find ways to push yourself out of this state. For me I have people around me to encourage me, I speak to my friends, I speak to my family about how I’m feeling and coping with pressure. It’s funny how the same place that may hurt you, could be the same place that you can find inspiration.
How do you see your practice developing or evolving in years to come? Will you turn your gaze to centring the masculine figure?
The prospect of moving in this direction excites me and scares me at the same time. No, I don’t want to stick to feminine aspects and stories, but at a later stage I also want to incorporate the perceptions of men. Whichever way you look at it, especially within society you can never really have a woman without a man or a man without a woman. These beauty standards and perceptions of men and manhood are also imposed by women and I would really like to explore this dichotomy in the future. I would also like to explore other techniques and mediums such a film and sculpture.
What inspires you?
Many things inspire me, but it’s mainly my surroundings. Whenever I create work that shocks or confuses me, I seek the thoughts of the people around me.