20Q: Nontsikelelo Veleko

She's still looking for a creative muse but she's fared exceptionally well without one. Photographer Lolo Veleko is just starting.
Lolo Veleko.
Lolo Veleko.

Nontsikelelo, or Lolo, Veleko was born in the North West Province in 1977. She trained at the Market Photo Workshop from 1999 to 2004. She first came under the spotlight in 2003 when she was nominated for a MTN New Contemporaries award. Since then she has participated in numerous group and solo exhibitions, contributed to various publications and raked in some coveted awards.Veleko ’s work has often examined the question around black identities. She describes her style as “totally urban” but still simple and easy to identify with.Veleko also recently became a mom for the first time.

1. Do you have a creative muse? Still looking for one!

2. Do you recycle?  Yes, mostly vegetables and fruits so I can make compost for new plants or foods I plant in the garden or in pots at home. This is something passed on to me by my grandparents and I continue this tradition.

3. Describe the best moment of your life? There are too many to mention but it is the birth of my son recently.

4. Where is your favourite place in the world? South Africa. ALL OF IT, I was an assistant to a photographer and got to travel while learning photography for a month and nothing thus far beat that experience. I worked for SA Tourism too as a librarian and accompanied some researchers at times, allocating photographers to uncover our wealth of beauty. Also with the Standard Bank Young Artist award 2007/8.

5. What's the best piece of design you've seen recently? Whew, too many to mention here. If you asked me about a photograph I would tell you David Goldblatt's photo on a Rankinjozi book.

6. What's your most treasured possession? A collection of books that I share with friends and colleagues.

7. If you had to live inside a work of art, which would it be? Mona Lisa.

8. What's one thing that you haven't done that you would still really like to do? Whew, there is so much to live for and to do, and I have not even begun as you would know, as photography has kept me busy.

9. What is your worst habit? Procrastination! But it is good at times as I get to see clearly what I really need to see or do.

10. How do you know when a design/photography project is complete? I don’t but I learn from the best that it is better to set deadlines, that way you know.

11. What is the question you ask yourself the most? What?

12. What are you the most grateful for? I am grateful to come from where I come from.

13. What inspires you? Life! Good or bad, I find inspiration in many little things that often go unnoticed.

14. What has been your greatest achievement? I am still waiting for it.

15. What is your present state of mind? Slow-minded, I read that this has to do with hormones after giving birth!

16. If you could have dinner with anybody that ever lived who would it be? Tatomkhulu u Mandela, and he is still alive and wise too.

17. If you could have one superpower, what would it be? I would love to have the super powers of The Incredibles.

18. What's your favourite book? Too many to single out. At the moment I am not reading anything but I would like to read O’Mandingo by Eric Miyeni and The Scramble for Africa and Chinafrica, both of which I forget the authors.

19. Do you cook? Rarely but when I do it is mostly summer cuisine, very simple and light.

20. If you could change three things about the world, what would it be? O ohhh um... a song by Ben Harper says "I can change the world, with my own two hands but you’ve got to use your own two hands". It reminds me of an Asian saying "Teach a man to fish...”