A trip through Sm8ke City

These creatives designed an alternate world using a combination of art and architecture.

When asked to describe their work, artists Bilal Mwayeya and Mbongisani Dube agree on the words: abstract, synergy and dope. From Botswana and Zimbabwe respectively, Mwayeya and Dube are two of the three members that make up the creative collective, F8REVER (pronounced forever). Along with Karabo Masalela, a writer from Botswana, the architecture students create striking canvas artworks that form part of an upcoming graphic novel.

The canvases are the graphic representation of Sm8ke City, a superhero fantasy that follows four characters as they try to save the world from creatures from an alternate dimension. “If you break it down, it’s basically good versus evil,” explains Mwayeya. “We’re talking about how regular people can save the world.”

While the two predict the novel will only be released after two more years, they’ve focussed their time on the creation of a world that is expressive, even if it’s only on canvas. “For now, the writing is informed by the art,” says Dube. “But moving forward, we’re hoping the writer will catch up.”

The two feel that they’ve found a creative home in South Africa. But, they both faced a number of challenges when trying to combine creativity and academics.

“Studying architecture, we’re creative all the time. There was a time when we were trying to combine the two [art and architecture] too aggressively. Now, we’re trying to make them complement each other,” says Mwayeya.

The collective will be exhibiting their canvases at the Inscape Education Group in Woodstock, South Africa from 6 to 9 October 2016.

Pictures by Ryan Byrne