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When art comes out to play

Despite living in a quiet little village, artist and director of Nebulae Productions cc – Artz Africa Cultural Projects Deanne Kim somehow manages to cram a whole lot of activity into her daily routine, filling it with art, artists and books.

incent van Gogh said, “And then, I have nature, art and poetry, and if this is not enough, what is enough?” This is the perfect question for Deanne. After completing her schooling, she studied fine art, and then visual arts through Unisa. In 1995, while in the Philippines, she was invited to be a judge of the country’s arts festival in Baguio. She also taught fine art to expats while living there.

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Back in South Africa in 1998, she opened her first art school, teaching students aged between four and 85. In 1999 she met the late NE Phaswana – at the time, a lecturer at Wits University. They started Kalahari Productions and Publishing. Deanne, also called Lerato, then went on to design more than more 500 book illustrations.

“In 2002 I moved to Kaapsehoop and also became a Kalahari Productions director,” she says. Where she gets her infinite energy and zest for what she does, boggles the mind. The flood gates then opened – 72 OBE educational textbooks followed. Deanne oversaw 25 African writers and also translated her life skills grades R to 3 OBE textbooks into nine indigenous languages. These were all later approved by the Department of Education.
“My Nebulae Productions Publishing cc was registered in 2009 and aims to engage with other JVs to assist and enhance education.”

In 2016 two of her books, When Cinderella Gets Divorced and The Cracked Slipper, saw the light when she launched them at the Casterbridge Book Festival, and now sell on Amazon.
“I met the talented Bob Mnisi at the Mpumalanga Agricultural Show in 2018 where I was exhibiting my socio-political contemporary art. This meeting kick-started the birth of Artz Africa. With some 100 Mpumalanga artists (most of them unemployed) on its database, Artz Africa, intends to upskill and enable natural talent to become independent self-employed artists and or writers,” says Deanne.

Part of this initiative is also to get artists involved in justifiable and sustainable projects within their communities. The latter may, in due time, include involvement with local schools so as to develop and nurture artistic talent from a young age.
Aristotle says, “The aim of art is to represent not the outward appearance of things, but their inward significance.” This is how Deanne describes her own art. “It lends toward a contemporary style yet some works are more spiritual. I enjoy doing expressive paintings of native Americans, a tribe that I have always been drawn to. This is due to their them being so drawn to the earth and its elements.

“The political works I paint are not realistic portraits, yet one can visually see exactly who each political hero/icon is. I use metaphors and symbolism to extend additional visual information to the viewer. My preferred medium – definitively oil. I love the smell and the feel of it when I put it on my pallet, it gives me emotional and psychological satisfaction even before I have actually started to paint with it.”
So let’s highlight some of the talented Artz Africa artists who are part of Nebulae Productions – Cultural Creative Projects. They

’re undergoing visual arts skills training funded by the National Arts Council.

Bob Mnisi
He’s acknowledged as the father of Artz Africa. He hails from KaBokweni.
After being selected as one of the 10 beneficiaries of Nebulae Productions
– Artz Africa Creative/Cultural Projects/National Arts Council visual arts skills development, Bob developed a unique, new, visual art style which is bound to attract international galleries. This assumption being based on the massive interested in his work generated on social media. He is currently working on a series titled “Isolation”. In 2017 Bob was the winner of the Mpumalanga Agricultural Show. He was also selected as one of the top 100 Standard Bank artists to present his works in Johannesburg. His art has sold nationally to many five-star private game lodges and it has also found its way onto the walls in the Netherlands and the United Kingdom.

William Mcolisi Mahlase
William qualified as an architect and is one of the latest up-and-coming
Mpumalanga rural youth visual artists. He recently started making masks for his KaBokweni Covid-19 community project. Besides this, he has sold many of the artworks he created during lockdown. William is a perfectionist and totally committed to improve his visual art skills. Besides producing art, he and his is elderly mother deliver vegetables and groceries to those in the KaBokweni community who are unable to do their shopping.

Pamela Mahalalela
This multitalented, 28-year-old cultural creative artist is the founder of another Covid-19 community project – the Khumbula Project in KaBokweni. Pamela is a fashion designer and writes short stories and poetry. “In the next five years I see Khumbula Project – with the support of Nebulae Productions Artz Africa Projects – assisting elderly, disabled persons and orphans,” she smiles.

Sipho (Pina) Hlengetwa
Sipho is a contemporary visual artist and founder of a Covid-19 community project NPO in Matsulu. Prior to the lockdown, his visual artworks were exhibited at Bohemian Groove Café in Kaapsehoop. “My mission and vision are to grow in the art industry. I learn from and teach others about art and one day may open my own gallery or centre that will give the youth a platform where they can express themselves.”
Sipho became the breadwinner at a very young age. He is self-taught and art became a catalyst for overcoming life’s challenges.

Sikhumbuzo Solomon
Sikhumbuzo is a 23-year-old KaBokweni artist. His works are created mainly on fabric and seem to attract the younger generation. His recent Artz Africa community mask-making project became a great success with orders rolling
in. “So I am happy,” he laughs.

Shane Hlophe
Shane’s another upcoming KaNyamazane visual artist. He won an award at the Mbombela Agricultural Show in 2018. His visual art paintings were exhibited
at the Mercure Hotel/Nebulae Productions – Artz Africa Cultural Creative Hub just a few days before the start of lockdown.
Shane has continued to produce quality artwork throughout lockdown courtesy of the support of many of his Mbombela clients.

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