Creative Block builds artists

A novel project is pro­vid­ing se­lect cre­atives with a way to con­ceive, grow and earn a liv­ing

The Sunday Independent - - METRO - LESEGO MAKGATHO | @Le­segoMak­gatho

CON­NECT­ING the arts and busi­ness en­ables artists to sus­tain­ably earn a liv­ing. And a vis­ually spec­tac­u­lar man­i­fes­ta­tion of such a part­ner­ship is the Creative Block project, an ini­tia­tive of Spier Arts Trust, a pa­tron to artists across the African con­ti­nent.

Se­lect artists are in­vited to trans­form 18cm x 18cm blank blocks us­ing any medium they choose. The fin­ished works are sub­mit­ted for cri­tique at reg­u­lar sub­mis­sion days in Cape Town, Jo­han­nes­burg, Dur­ban and Port El­iz­a­beth, and the best are bought for re­sale at R1 500 each to cor­po­rate pa­trons and the pub­lic.

More than 250 par­tic­i­pat­ing artists are in­volved in the project.

Pa­trick Ra­pai, 42, is a fine artist who ma­jored in paint­ing and sculp­ture. He joined Creative Block about two years ago.

“We start the process by paint­ing on blocks, then from there you de­velop to a can­vas and big­ger projects,” he says.

“My paint­ings are in­spired by the African land­scapes and places that I visit. I’ve trav­elled ex­ten­sively in Europe and the US, mostly in Chicago and Michi­gan, and that’s where I draw my in­spi­ra­tion from – I trans­late it on to can­vas.”

Ra­pai, who is based in Jo­han­nes­burg, says he is happy with the way peo­ple keep com­ing back and buy­ing art from him and other par­tic­i­pants, be­cause it em­pow­ers the artists fi­nan­cially as well in the creative process.

“So I love the ado­ra­tion from that sense. It drives us to be more creative to­wards the world’s ac­cepted art. I am from Zim­babwe, and I’ve been mov­ing to var­i­ous places.”

Ra­pai reck­ons the project is im­por­tant for creative artists be­cause they get their creative di­rec­tion from Spier Arts Trust chief cu­ra­tor, Tam­lin Blake.

“It im­proves our art, be­cause as an artist you think what you think right now is what mat­ters, but some­times the world de­mands to see more, and it’s fi­nan­cially re­ward­ing as well.

“Basa (Busi­ness and Arts South Africa) is a good plat­form for a creative per­son to be part of.”

Ra­pai re­cently opened an art gallery in Bez Val­ley, Jo­han­nes­burg, which he is de­vel­op­ing with young and up­com­ing artists.

An­other artist par­tic­i­pat­ing in the Creative Block ini­tia­tive is Nqabutho Phakathi, 38.

“I am very much into por­trait paint­ing on can­vas. I have been in the art space for 18 years now, but I’ve been in­volved with Hol­lard (In­sur­ance) and Nando’s since 2007,” he says.

“Creative Blocks has helped me grow in a big way as an artist. You are given six blocks ev­ery month, and with those blocks you get to learn and ex­plore medi­ums and try dif­fer­ent as­pects.”

The Jo­han­nes­burg-based artist says he is “very much into paint­ing women and cap­tur­ing them”.

“They carry a lot of move­ment in them, and I’ve be­come in­ter­ested in cap­tur­ing spe­cial mo­ments like those where they don’t think any­one is watch­ing. I then put it into paint­ings and draw­ings,” he says.

“The art space is im­por­tant be­cause it helps us grow. There are many dis­ad­van­taged artists from our com­mu­ni­ties, where they are poor, and when they be­come in­volved in an ini­tia­tive like this it help them grow with the lit­tle money that they make to sup­port their fam­i­lies.

“And it also helps them feel recog­nised – it boosts their con­fi­dence,” says Phakathi.

The foy­ers of Lionel House and Florence House, the com­pany’s head of­fice build­ings at the Hol­lard Cam­pus in Park­town, Jo­han­nes­burg, each fea­ture a con­stantly chang­ing wall of Creative Blocks – with ev­ery work avail­able for sale.

“For this rea­son, we cre­ated our on­go­ing Bet­ter Fu­tures mar­ket­ing cam­paign,” says Heidi Brauer, Hol­lard’s chief mar­ket­ing of­fi­cer.

“This cam­paign de­scribes how we ap­proach busi­ness, it tells peo­ple a lit­tle about our cul­ture, and it serves as a con­stant re­minder to us all that do­ing good is good for busi­ness.

“The Creative Block project is the per­fect man­i­fes­ta­tion of what Bet­ter Fu­tures is all about.

“It ben­e­fits the artists by pro­vid­ing them with in­come and guid­ance, it ben­e­fits Hol­lard by en­gag­ing us in cre­ativ­ity and re­flec­tion, and it ben­e­fits so­ci­ety through bring­ing into the world works of great beauty.

“And it’s been in­cred­i­bly suc­cess­ful: in the past five years, 17 000 art­works have been sold,” she said.

This project serves as a con­stant re­minder to us all that do­ing good is good for busi­ness. Heidi Brauer Chief mar­ket­ing of­fi­cer, Hol­lard

Some of the Creative Block art­works, cre­ated on 18cm x 18cm blocks and bought for re­sale to cor­po­rate pa­trons and the pub­lic.

Pieces avail­able for pur­chase..

Nqabutho Phakathi with some of the art­works he has de­vel­oped..

Pa­trick Ra­pai shows two of his cre­ations.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.