Photographer Cole Ndelu on 'making imagery that makes my kin feel seen'

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'A Colour Study and Silk' series, 2020. (Photos by Cole Ndelu)
'A Colour Study and Silk' series, 2020. (Photos by Cole Ndelu)

Every year, the Adobe Creative Residency gives entry, or mid-level artists an opportunity to build their portfolios by offering them mentorship, a full salary, access to Adobe software and other project-specific modes of support. This lasts for the duration of a year. 

This year, the creative residency has expanded the reach of its support by setting up the Creative Residency Community Fund. Valued at $1 million, the fund was created in response to the ways that the Covid-19 pandemic has kept creative communities financially strained for most of 2020. 

So, in addition to the residents that Adobe takes on every year, this fund makes it possible for the multimedia and creativity software company to support more artists by either funding their projects or, like Cole Ndelu, commissioning them for Adobe-based projects. 

This is my first commission since lockdown and I’ve always dreamt of working with Adobe since seeing David Uzochukwu work with them five years ago,” Ndelu tells Arts24. 


Cole Ndelu is a conceptual portrait maker, fashion photographer and creative director. Her practice began in 2016 when she received a degree in Visual Communication, majoring in photography, from the Stellenbosch Academy of Design and Photography. 

Since then, Ndelu has worked in commercial and contemporary art spaces. On the commercial front she has shot lookbooks, editorial covers and music visualisers. As an artist Ndelu has taken part in ten group shows at locations spanning BKhz in Johannesburg and Somerset House in London. 

Whether commercial or artistic, she is determined to use her work to celebrate, champion and imagine a safe existence for black people: 

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