Studying in Switzerland

2012-10-02 00:00

NKULE Mabaso, winner of the 2012 Umvithi Youth Development Foundation’s Kwazulu-Natal Young Achievers’ Award for art, is heading overseas to do her Masters degree in curating at the Zurich University of the Arts in Switzerland.

“I want to develop my arts administration skills. This will leave me with the freedom to develop my own work at my own pace, free of the burdens of an academic institution,” she said.

It’s the latest in a string of successes for the Newcastle-born artist, who uses traditional beauty aids — hair extensions and braids — to encourage debate around the issue of beauty.

“I make art out of hair,” she says. “My own hair is my painting. The extensions I use to create my art portray beauty and the importance of aesthetics. I want my work to be confrontational, and be part of the conversation raising questions around the representation of black female bodies and their subjugation.”

A graduate of the University of Cape Town, where she did a degree in fine arts (majoring in painting), Mabaso, has been invited to exhibit her “hair art” in Copenhagen, Denmark. The show came about following her inclusion in a group exhibition hosted by Charlottenborg Foundation in Denmark. Her work made such an impression on the judges that they invited her to return with a solo exhibition, which will go on display in February 2013.

Mabaso is also the founder of the Newcastle Creative Network, a database for local artists, musicians and performers. “We find artists in the townships and hold exhibitions and live performances,” she said. “People play music and recite poetry. We give the arts a platform, because we believe that if everyone works together, we can create a bigger creative industry sector in Newcastle.”

The success of the organisation’s endeavours resulted in three KZN Young Achievers’ Award nominations, with a win in the arts and crafts category.

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