Fresh Produce - Fruits & Veg of the 2016 Mentorship Programme

For the third year in a row Assemblage ran a successful mentorship and training programme, concluding with the Fresh Produce exhibition at the Turbine Art Fair. The 2016 programme was a partnership between VANSA and Assemblage and was supported by Rand Merchant Bank. The Fresh Produce exhibition was curated by Rolihlahla Mhlanga.

The mentorship programme was a six-month intensive course coordinated by Mandy Johnston and Fleur de Bondt, and it was a great success. The programme covered the creative value chain, from business planning, documenting and writing about your artwork, funding, marketing and how to sustain your career, to project management, pricing and a guide to approaching galleries and the media. Workshops were facilitated by a variety of arts professionals including Stephen Hobbs, Mary Corrigall, Gordon Froud, Molemo Moiloa, Louise Van Der Bijl and Julie Taylor. In addition, the group of 15 artists had six months of peer mentorship and critical review of their work, encouraging them to grow conceptually and technically. They were mentored by Anthea Moys, Frances Goodman, David Koloane and Usha Seejarim.

The artists were Lloyd Maluleke, Sifiso Temba, Tshepiso Mazibuko, Nkosinathi Quwe, Mduduzi Twala, Sakhile Cebekhulu, Kelebogile Masilo, Mandlenkosi Mavengere, Kgomotso Neto, Bukhosi Nyathi, Rendani Nemakhavhani, Zanele Mashinini, Sibusiso Bheka, Lindokuhle Sobekwa, Lindo Zwane and Bokang Menkoe. They were enthusiastic for the most part, participated fully in the programme and a huge amount of growth was seen in each of them. They used the opportunity given them to improve their practice. The evidence of this was an extremely well received, beautiful exhibition at the Turbine Art Fair.

The mentees really worked hard and took their work to the next level. Given the response from the feedback forms, the group as a whole gained invaluable information on pricing, utilising social media, and how to sustain a career. Most of the mentees were open-minded (reluctantly at first) and used the input and opportunity to grow. There were plenty of sales at the fresh produce stand, with more than two thirds of the works selling out. Roli was a brilliant, engaged, hard-working curator. It was a success and the mentors feel they too have gained a lot from the experience. We would like to give a warm thank you to Rolihlahla Mhlanga for his curatorial selection of a supremely talented and committed group of artists.

The aim of the programme was to provide a comprehensive programme that encompasses the necessary tools to help build and sustain a career in the industry. The ultimate outcome is to strengthen the visual-arts community as a whole by providing those who participate a guide through the development of their work, but also the tools to put their careers into action. The programme was carried out in collaboration with VANSA and Turbine Art Fair.