Earlier this year Cerbastian Davids of Black Privilege, Nthabiseng Letsoso (The Fashion Sangoma) and Mbalemnyama Radebe (BlackRose)came to Cape Town to paint a mural for the Baz Arts’ International Public Arts Festival (IPAF) which took place in Salt River. While in the city, the Jo’burg-based artists partnered up with local fashion brand Pattern Nation‘s Cydney Eva and Costa Besta to create clothing and jewellery for a photo and video shoot in front of their amazing new murals.
During their stay at the Pattern Palace live work studio, Black Rose and the Fashion Sangoma made all the jewelry for the shoot and Cerbastian partnered with Cyd and Costa to create a new collection of clothing remixing Black Privilege T-shirts into new garments. Captured by cinematographer King George of Back Bone Media the shoot celebrates self-expression and creativity.
In this Serving: Culture issue exclusive, Pattern Nation chats to Black Privilege, BlackRose and The Fashion Sangoma about what drives their creativity, the concept behind their IPAF murals and the deeper message behind the art they make.
What was the concept behind the mural you painted in Salt River for IPAF?
Mbali: The subject for IPAF was digitalization of the arts and my concept behind the mural was to bring colour into peoples spaces- especially places that have been deserted or abandoned- by hopefully plugging on Wifi access to the community. That would be how we digitalise artists and the work they do internationally and this is how we open up more knowledge by giving access to these communities as well.
Nthabiseng: It was our first experience with BlackRose to paint a public mural so we wanted to communicate more using colour and incorporate the Seven principles of ‘Kwanzaa’, which emphasizes connectivity of every community. So we brought color, creativity and connectivity to our mural.
“It was so exciting being part of this as everyone had something to contribute.”
Cerbastian: In conclusion I would like to depict the possibilities that are not just out there but right in front of us, for our youth to explore, educate and equip themselves with skills and to succeed in this world. Our days of struggling to excess technology are over, its freely available. Use it do not abuse it.
What clothing or jewelry did you make for the collaboration? Tell us about the process.
Mbali: The accessories I made were the necklaces and hat I’m wearing in the video. It was an interesting process as it was my first time making them and using the equipment. The accessories were made from rope and recycled materials from Pattern Nation who also assisted in the workplace and workshops. I loved it so much that I’m currently adding accessories to my artworks now for the future of Mbalemnyama Art.
“It is our responsibility to use our talent to empower and educate the youth.”
Nthabiseng: For the collaboration I had so much fun with colour and learning to make accessories from yarn, rope and fabric cut-offs. It was so exciting being part of this as everyone had something to contribute and it could be whatever. I got inspired so much by the creative energy that I was surrounded with at Pattern Nation Studios.
Cerbastian: Myself and the Pattern Nation crew made the trousers and T-shirts. Using my Black Privilege prints and their expressive patterns we came up with these sick new looks.
What is the vision behind your artistry?
Mbali: My art is focused on highlighting beautiful images of black women and the culture around them. I love using bright colors and adding educational concepts on the pieces because it creates interesting conversations for both the audience and myself.
“We are so often polarized in our communities and our collaboration with Black Privilege is all about unity.”
Nthabiseng: The vision behind my artistry is to always bring more creativity in all my expressions. I do this through colour and what is considered as ‘waste’.
Cerbastian: I do not consider myself an artist. I am simply an expression sharing my stories, opinions and knowledge about South Africa. I believe it is our responsibility to use our natural given talent to empower and educate the youth about their history and present times to better equip and prepare them for the future.
What mediums do you use to express yourself?
Mbali: Mixed media which contains canvas, charcoal, paper mache, acrylic and oil paint.
Nthabiseng: Paper Waste Art, photography, fashion, music and graffiti.
Cerbastian: Painting, murals and canvases. I use rubbish I find in streets and upcycle it into art. I’m also the founder of a fashion line called ‘Black Privilege’.
What does ‘Black Privilege’ mean to you?
Mbali: That I understand who I am, what my true history is and how I can always be expressive about the black nation and my culture at large.
Nthabiseng: It means I am the carrier of the seed of humanity. That is a privilege.
Cerbastian: It is the vibrancy and diversity in food, music, language, fashion and art found in black cultures and traditions around the world.
How do colours and patterns influence your life?
Mbali: They mean a lot to me due to my traditional history being Zulu. We are a very expressive culture and we have used these mediums to communicate as the Zulu tribe.
Nthabiseng: Colours and patterns bring vibrancy and positivity in my life. Awesome engaging energy. Always.
Cerbastian: They give me the freedom to be expressive. I get to manifest my thoughts through colour and patterns and create my own reality.
Pattern Nation is run by interracial couple, Cydney Eva (who is white from Vancouver, Canada) and Costa Besta (who is of Zulu descent, born and raised in Kwazulu Natal and the Free State). We believe in the power that comes from indigenous people and colonial allies coming together to make positive change in the world. We are so often polarized in our communities and our collaboration with Black Privilege is all about unity. Black Privilege asks us to celebrate the beauty, ingenuity, diversity and genius of black people.
The project brought us together to learn about each other’s cultures, backgrounds, stories, strengths, and most of all, to live together and break bread as one.
Pattern Nation in collaboration with BlackRose, Black Privilege and the Fashion Sangoma
Costa Besta of Pattern Nation
Cydney Eva of Pattern Nation
Mbalemnyama Radebe BlackRose
Nthabiseng Letsoso (The Fashion Sangoma)
Photographer, videographer and editor:
King George Back Bone Media
Mzanzi Today by Soundz Tabuu and Costa Besta