PER­SPEC­TIVE

Mal­i­bongwe Ty­ilo ar­gues that cre­ativ­ity is a mod­ern as­set

House and Leisure (South Africa) - - Contents - MAL­I­BONGWE TY­ILO

First, a con­fes­sion. Among a num­ber of char­ac­ter flaws, most of which I am bliss­fully ig­no­rant, there’s one in par­tic­u­lar that I’ll di­vulge up front: I oc­ca­sion­ally hold grudges. I’m not venge­ful, I just strug­gle to move on when I feel wronged by some­one I’d trusted. For­tu­nately it takes a lot for me to feel ag­grieved, so my grudge bag is very light. In fact, it’s empty at the mo­ment.

How­ever, a re­sent­ment that I held on to for a while was against the world in which I grew up, where choos­ing to pur­sue a ca­reer in fash­ion de­sign or fine art or sim­i­lar was shunned and caused sleep­less nights for par­ents. Add to that mix South Africa’s po­lit­i­cal his­tory and you have even more panic, espe­cially for black par­ents. Imag­ine those par­ents, con­stantly stress­ing about what fu­ture their chil­dren would have in a coun­try of lim­ited pos­si­bil­i­ties, and then said chil­dren walk in pro­claim­ing their de­sire to study fine art – and this to folks who haven’t seen much ev­i­dence of po­ten­tial to make a de­cent liv­ing from the arts.

Even though mine were sup­port­ive enough and in a po­si­tion to pay for my fash­ion school ed­u­ca­tion and later, my mul­ti­me­dia de­sign stud­ies, I grew up around the mes­sag­ing that I should pur­sue some­thing in sci­ence or com­merce. I also know many peo­ple with qual­i­fi­ca­tions in those fields who had to pur­sue them for fu­ture se­cu­rity be­fore they could then fol­low their hearts.

Be­ing the cheeky youth that I was, I’ve al­ways pushed back against that kind of think­ing. Con­vinced that so­lu­tions to the world’s prob­lems would come from cre­ative com­mu­ni­ties, over the years I (mis)di­rected my ire to­wards the ‘suits’, big busi­nesses, the cor­po­rates and their spread­sheets.

Fast-for­ward to 2018, and some of my favourite peo­ple to work with are ‘suits’. Let me ex­plain. I don’t have sta­tis­tics – what I have goes lit­tle be­yond the anec­do­tal – but I’m con­vinced we’re liv­ing in one of the great­est eras for those will­ing to ex­plore cre­ative ex­pres­sion. From ca­reers in de­sign, be it fash­ion, graphic or pro­duc­to­ri­en­tated, to those in fine arts or mu­sic, all the way through to the In­sta­gram in­flu­encer set, cre­ativ­ity is every­where.

Un­like many of the painters and sculp­tors of old who were only likely to be recog­nised long af­ter they passed, a lot of to­day’s vis­ual artists are su­per­stars. How­ever you feel about their work, you can­not deny the megas­tar­dom of Ma­rina Abramović, Jeff Koons, Damien Hirst and the like. Lo­cally, award-win­ning artist Nandipha Mn­tambo re­cently launched a lim­ited-edi­tion scent with per­fumer Tammy Frazer, to be sold with two of the artist’s prints. The price tag was a cool R48 000. In the past decade, we’ve seen the birth and rise of the FNB JoburgArtFair as well as its coun­ter­part in Cape Town, and the found­ing of nu­mer­ous art gal­leries that have be­come play­ers in the global art game.

Ad­mit­tedly, there is still much work to be done to of­fer more op­por­tu­ni­ties for the cre­atively in­clined. I be­lieve, how­ever, that there has never been a bet­ter time to be a cre­ator and tell sto­ries. And, thanks to the in­evitable process of ma­tu­rity, I have also long let go of my grudges against the ‘suits’. I’ve learnt that cre­ativ­ity does not only lie with the au­dio­vi­su­ally in­clined; it’s often busi­ness­peo­ple who en­able cre­ativ­ity through their own spe­cial set of skills. While some may not be in­ter­ested in the ac­tual cre­ative-ex­e­cu­tion game, many have rev­o­lu­tion­ary ideas.

Though not re­li­gious, some­times on en­coun­ter­ing the work of in­cred­i­ble cre­ative minds, I’m tempted to sub­scribe to the­is­tic doc­trines: I imag­ine that great artists are do­ing the work of that higher power, as ves­sels for oth­er­worldly vi­sions and mes­sages; that they pro­vide so­lu­tions and ques­tions as well as plea­sure for this world. Cre­ate. mal­i­bongwe

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