I’m an Artist

Frida Khalo

For the longest of time I had difficulty accepting that the label ‘writer’ could ever apply to me. What with all the worlds people such as Sello Duiker, Chimamanda Adichie, and Biyi Bandele have opened up for me. Worlds that I had a deep desire to immerse myself in, and have a drink with the characters as they share with me their deeper philosophies. Worlds of one individual’s creation, creating something out of nothing. Worlds that travel and open in their readers forgotten layers. Worlds that have been created in response to a buzz, an image, a sound, a smell, a touch, an outstanding sensuality, sensibility, and obedience. Worlds created out of sheer raw creativity.

I don’t struggle with using the label ‘artist’ to signify who I am. Being an artist is a sacred state of mind and state of being. I often hear writers talk about how they can only write when they are going through difficulty, and I can relate. When there is an immense depth of feeling, that is, when you delve into the darker corners of who you are, when darkness seems to threaten the lightness of your soul, you are called upon to explore that slice of life, for being a writer is exactly that: you cannot function without the lucidity of events, characters, context, and position. Every depth of feeling must be afforded a deep plunge, an acknowledgement, and articulation.

When you explore a depth of feeling, a most primal and raw emotion, it comes unaccompanied by language or reason; it is as it is, like a dream it presents itself as nonlinear and delineated from worldly order of events. It is an image a writer must trust and obey. Obedience is forsaking the ego and accessing a child-like state in the face of exploring that depth of feeling. This is how you can (re)create a world from a prelingual state—a piece of music can give way to the first words; an image, a painting, photograph, or poster can lend its grammars to your world; the silent beauty of nature can envelop you with sensuality that overwhelms you with vocabularies of creation.

However you must not only hear but listen. You must not only see but practice vision. Summon the third eye. You must employ the third eye to extrapolate from everyday life the nuances of what we have deemed normative. You must, in a most unassuming way, position yourself as a diviner—prick your ear to listen to the raw sounds that will respond to your raw feeling, align yourself with worlds that can burst open and broaden your own, and prise your heart open to levels of fluidity, constant motion and evolutions. Nature abhors stasis, as does art.

You must immerse yourself in art in order to be a creator of worlds. You must be sensitive and sensible to the pulse of creation. You must surrender to the rawness of drums, paint, light, saxophone, words, movement, clay, performance, marble, wood, charcoal, voice, feathers, and so forth; keeping in mind that for anything of value to come out, you must deplete and deconstruct. You must free these commodities from their conventional use and create a world for them to find another use that responds to your depth of feeling. The same goes for self. You must strip yourself to the most bare as to invite the royal robe of creativity to enshroud your naked senses. You must create!

My name is Uhuru, and I am a creator. I create art using wor(l)ds borne out of images, sounds, nature, movement, performance, piano, feelings, smells, motion, tastes, water, alphabets, light, … In this video below, Chimamanda invite us to create worlds of our own making, multi-dimensional worlds that are not as flat as the conventional everyday life depict. There are so many layers to who we are, and we must endeavour to plunge into those layers to recreate satisfactory images of who we are. If you don’t write your own story, someone else will draw misconceived conclusions about who you are. Writing your story can happen in various ways. Find your medium. Find a fitting interface between you and who you are. Create your world, create yourself.

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Sensual Creative Feast

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Nature makes you creative. This is an undisputed fact. Creativity has lost its true meaning over the centuries, when its name was dragged to high-end museums, opera houses, and city halls. Creativity is the simple act of creating. The process itself may not be that simple but it’s the simplicity that makes a creation creative. In nature, with minimal resources, one has to be in constant production. One has to create a way of living. Fires have to be made, fridges have to be improvised under the earth, and modes of entertainment must be constructed.

I very much doubt that the ‘first people’ were dropping like flies from eating the wrong kinds of plants. In fact, I believe because nature makes you shed your skin and rely on instinct and intuition, the first people knew exactly what to eat, and it was no mistake when they went under a trance of hallucinations for days. If you are accustomed to nature, you will know a fruit tree when you see one sans the fruits. The same principle applies to wild spinach, or morogo—when you find it in nature you will know exactly which is edible and which is not.

Nature trains your senses. You are fully awake and livened in nature. You use your sense of sight, before you pick up and smell, then you put in your mouth, but not without applying your sense of feel and touch: what follows is an engagement with your fifth sense of taste. All these senses would’ve been roused by the sixth one which is intuition. You don’t just pick anything in nature. You need to be as balanced as nature is to dwell in it. You must live harmoniously with the flora and fauna.

Artists have to train their senses. Artists function and create from their senses: they’re sensitive, sensible, and sensuous. They will function best in nature I tell you. Right now being in the Drakensburg for what seems timeless has immersed me in a crazy spirit of creativity. My senses are at work: the mist, the greenery, the river, the water lilies, compost, birds, butterflies, nests and age-old trees are all magic to my soul. I am a child, and I see now that we have to return to nature. [It’s gonna take some doing convincing R to move here].

Nature makes you creative. Our great-grands made musical instruments out of wood, skin, twine, seeds, pumpkin shells, and many other organic products that spoke to their sixth sense. They sought a particular sound and feeling, so they improvised and created it. They baked bread without ovens, and they had showers way before the conventional shower was conceived. They lived as creators. Creativity is not elitist or reserved for the trained palettes. Creativity is in our everyday modes of existence. We are all creators; we can make something out of nothing.

This post is inspired by a meal I made last night, pictured below. I just used what we had in the fridge, and stirred it in the one pan we have. It was a marvellous creation. I worked with what I had, used my intuition, and came at this delicious aubergine tartlets. I will definitely be making it again back in the city, even with the many other resources that we would be back to. I think it is a lovely treat for kids too, and works best when you don’t really like meat.

Food

 

You will need:

  • Aubergines
  • Mushrooms
  • Courgettes
  • Onions
  • Garlic
  • Chillies
  • Ginger
  • Feta cheese
  • Red pepper
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Hummus to serve

I cut the aubergines in circles so they may create a nice base, then grilled them in olive oil with onions, garlic, chillies, and ginger. When soft but not mushy I laid them onto the plate, and sautéed mushrooms and courgettes. When lovely and soft I topped the aubergines with them. Then I put crumbled feta cheese on the tartlets, then for a lovely splash of colour I grilled red peppers and cherry tomatoes, and finished the toppings with them. I served with a lovely hummus and bread if you will. You may also use olive tapenade. I think it will hit the spot.

Obviously the ingredients may vary: I would toss ginger carrots on there, or even top the aubergines with round beetroot. It’s your kitchen. Create…

Still Grazing…

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Good morning my respected sources of joy and inspiration. Every morning when I think of what to share with you I feel so blessed to immediately receive three-pronged inspiration—from you, from my inner self, and from my immediate life, which I’m eternally grateful for. Let me elaborate. From you I receive discipline. I can no longer ramble on and on without a coherent thread of logic, and I can no longer type and quickly publish without rereading and correcting typos and grammatical errors. Because of you I push myself to offer you my best. You deserve that from me. I have invited you into my life not to offer you mediocrity and average babble…

From my inner self I revel in the gratitude of having found my voice again, after refraining from creative writing for over five years. I am reassured and validated by my passion to write; I am moved beyond words by the well in me that doesn’t run dry—and I mean moved beyond words literally: my posts on this blog are a response to a tingling sensation deep within a reservoir in my mind and soul; I respond to images and texts I encounter in everyday lives, some I have encountered not in this physical body itself, but appear to me as ‘future memories’. Please read here about entangled time https://uhurumahlodi.wordpress.com/2013/08/30/creation-memory-and-desire/  When I am immersed completely in my positive creative nest I receive the topics on which to write, and I listen to that inner voice when it propels me. I am moved by the beat of my heart. I dance and sing to it. I obey it.

My immediate life is simply the physicality of it: time, growth and change happening simultaneously, seamlessly, and effortlessly, influencing me in ways I could’ve never imagined. My life (individual consciousness and subconsciousness), my life work (PhD), my passion (writing, jazz, travelling, gardening, and cooking), my family (husband and normative familial bonds), and my friends (family I got to choose), all contribute to the big love I inject in everything I do. All these things and people show me a pure love, a harmonious input-output response that almost always yields growth. Conscientiously. I am revealed to myself like colour to new eyes, I hear jazz with fresh ears, I feel the textures of my blessings through the stringing of words on this keyboard, I taste the fruits of my labour, and I smell the future in sunflowers and the scent of changing seasons…

I am alive. I am waiting to check-in and prepare for my flight from Amsterdam to Johannesburg tomorrow, where I will spend a week with family before heading to our home so dearly missed in Cape Town. I am shedding my skin for true nudity in order to bathe in the love I will receive in the coming days. I am humbled.

Have a fantastic week…

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A Friend with Jazz is a Friend Indeed!

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My life MUST be a sensory feast! I insist! Otherwise I’m doing grave injustice to myself. The earth’s breadth and width is full of all things stimulating, enticing, and provocative. I need to indulge in them. They are mine. They are ours. Oh give me good food and good wine so I may excite my palette and taste buds, may the sensation warm my loins so I may know true pleasure. Please give me good food, and let me eat.

May I see beauty all around? May I lay my eyes on varying degrees of beautiful objects, people, animals, plants, flowers and the spectacular splendour of nature. May I feel the textures of life warm my heart? The paradox of slimy oysters, soft corduroy, and the cooling gel from the thorny cactus. The smell of freshly cut grass, or the saltiness of the ocean suspended in mid-air; the smell of tripe as it boils on the stove, fragrances, perfume—may they all continue to fill me up, top my pleasure and tilt the scales!

But jazz! Jazz helps me to discover me. I discover on this great journey that my skin is a contact point of who I am, but doesn’t even begin to define what that is. Jazz music lifts me to the depths of the Congo River, it sails my boat over the Mississippi, I feel the blood of pharaohs flow in my veins like the river Nile. Jazz turns me inside out and presents me to myself on an operating table. Jazz shows me mirrors of surety, of self-assurance, self-resilience, resourcefulness, and improvisation. How oh how can I ever not know when I see knowledge play itself out on my realm? Live performance. Musical instruments. They all unlock the doors of hope with their piano keys, stroke the guitar strings of my heart, blow the gravy (col)train and give me the meat, move the rhythm of my drumming heartbeat, and make me live. Jazz: the essence of my life, the nectar of my soul, the colours of today, the music of my heart.

Sibongile; we give thanks to the life of hope, beauty, sensory indulgence, and Jazz!

May we all be moved by the poetry of life  that makes us soar and reach new heights.

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I am on my way to the embassy to finalise the process of immigration. May they all function at my pace, and approach my humility with peace.

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