About the Artist Career Development Programme by Coordiantor Fleur de Bondt
Assemblage, in collaboration with VANSA and Turbine Art Fair, has coordinated a six month intensive workshop programme for emerging artists that integrates practical art-making (focusing on process and conceptual development) and professional practice training. The objective of this comprehensive programme is to provide the selected participants with support and guidance to develop their work and, very importantly, with tools to sustain their art career once the programme is completed.
The Artist Career Development Programme (developed by Assemblage and initiated in 2016) is made up of two components - eight professional practice workshops and six peer mentoring sessions – which take place over a six month period. The professional practice workshops aim to address the the gaps of available knowledge in the art industry. Important topics covered include: Treating your career as a business, accessing and applying for funding, art law, project management, documenting your artwork, the creative value chain within the arts, writing about your artwork, and marketing yourself and your work. Appropriate industry professionals are carefully selected to facilitate each workshop whilst sharing their knowledge and personal experience.
The second component is the peer mentoring programme, which Assemblage has been running in various forms since 2010. The participating artists are divided into groups headed by a seasoned South African artist and embark on a journey to develop their process and concepts with the goal of creating a cohesive body of work. Their work is showcased at the Turbine Art Fair, which is unique opportunity for an emerging artist’s work to be viewed so publicly at such a prestigious event. Throughout the peer mentoring sessions, each artist is required to talk about their work, progress and challenges. The mentor - offering valuable insight from their own experience within the industry - encourages dialogue, feedback, and critique. The mentors for the 2017 programme were the artists Thenjiwe Nkosi, Pat Mautloa, and Simon Gush.
The artists learn the value of receiving feedback from like-minded and experienced people, which takes them outside of the often-isolating environment that many artists work in. From my personal experience of coordinating this programme, I have witnessed incredible growth of the participating artists from the sessions and have seen how they begin to implement the tools provided from the programme into their own practice.
A special word of thanks to our professional practice workshop facilitators;
Lauren von Gogh
Musa N Nxumalo
Louise van der Bijl
Curatorial Statement for Fresh Produce 2017 by Curator Rolihlahla Mhlanga
To give you more insight into the process of accepting applications towards participating in the Fresh Produce exhibition at The Turbine Art Fair. The process starts with an open call for applications targeted at young artists towards the Artist Career Development programme made in late 2016 by the Visual Arts Network of South Africa. It would be followed by assessing the aptitude of each applicant and shortlisting individuals through an interview process. The ultimate goal was to strengthen the artist’s work as a whole by providing the mentees with not only a guide through the development of their work, but most importantly the tools that put their career into action within the industry.
Given the submitted portfolio of artwork by the artist/s it is important to observe that particular individual’s career history but to also to understand their personal trajectory for their professional careers in the arts. Such exceptional applicants are likely to succeed in becoming 1 of 15 mentees chosen for the peer mentoring component of the Artist Career Development Programme. Another aspect of this programme involves professional practice and training. It is imperative that mentees are able to assimilate what they would be learning in the series of workshops facilitated by industry professionals into their practice. Following this stringent process was the final shortlist of the mentees that would be selected for the programme.
The list of successful applicants for the Fresh Produce exhibition 2017 are follows in no particular order :
Mmabatho Grace Mokalapa
Alex von Klitzing
Chrisel van der Merwe
And then the outcome... concepts and narratives were self generated by the artists themselves to make up an exhibition with a plethora of visually exciting imagery. Delving into personal encounters, the natural sciences, colonial history conveyed into accounts that inform the modern day South African cultural climate.
However, my role as the curator was to provide support to their individual processes and help mediate between the artist and his/her work along with the mentorship of Pat Mautloa, Thenjiwe Nkosi and Simon Gush who were this year’s set of mentors invited to lead the peer mentoring component of the Artist Career Development Programme.
Assemblage in partnership with the Visual Arts Network of South Africa and the Turbine Art Fair.
The Fresh Produce exhibition is presented by RMB Talent Unlocked with additional support received through a supporting grant from Business and Arts South Africa.