Working hand in hand

The Imbadu Collective, which launched in Langa last night, aims to foster artistic collaboration among the artists in its fold.

The Imbadu Collective launched in Langa at the Guga S’Thebe theatre last night. Its aim is to foster artistic collaboration among the artists in its fold, and to bring design to children in the township.

“Imbadu” is a isiXhosa word which roughly translates to “a gathering”. Zukisani Mrwetyanana, a member of the Imbadu Collective that brings creatives from different disciplines together, says: “It used to be held by our elders and forefathers back in the day to give them an opportunity to gather and share experiences and thoughts.”

In a video produced by the collective, they express the desire to bring art and design into Langa and encourage young creatives. The collective launches with an exhibition that celebrates local design, heritage and creative collaboration.

In an interview with Andile Dyalvane, ceramicist and launch organiser, he commented on the reasons why the collective was started: “We decided to start Imbadu because of our shared experience and background that we have as a collective of being black and coming from this community, and the culture, where we work together and no man is an island. For everyone to move forward, you need helping hands to take you there.”

The collective is made up of an assortment of creatives: ceramicists, photographers, furniture makers and artists. The collective specifically chose this wide array to encourage cross-disciplinary collaborations and to increase the creative skill of members in the collective.

“It’s about forming a network among black creatives where we can have a helping hand around when you’re stuck with something,” said Mlondolozi Hempe. He used to be an architect and is now a furniture designer.

The theatre floor exhibited an array of pieces made by the artists. Coming from different creative skills, the pieces are the yield of the collaborations. For example, Dyalvane collaborated with fashion designer Zukisani Mrwetyana to create a hanging light feature.

The light is made from a recycled bottle and wears a painted ceramic bowl like a hat: “What’s amazing about the light is the use of the recyled bottle fused with the ceramic. It elevates the value and gives it a new life. It’s beautiful in form now and it came out of creative thinking.”

Also key to the collective is to bring art and design to the township and to children living and going to school there. This is important to Dyalvane because he believes that a career in art or design is often not a popular choice among black children because it doesn’t appear to be a “bread bringer”.

Hempe echoes this sentiment: “It’s rare for students to have physical references of people that they know who work as creatives.”

“It was key to come back to the community and say: ‘Ay! If you want to do something creative I’m here to answer some of the questions and guide you in the right direction. Imbadu is about giving back, sharing and working together’.”

The Guga S’Thebe theatre boasts great design and architecture and is also a project in upcycling. The theatre is a large, open space that feels like an aeroplane hangar. It is built from 11 re-used shipping containers stacked double-storey and is clad in recycled pallet wood.

The collective has plans for the future: the pieces exhibited at Guga S’Thebe are prototypes and not one-off pieces. They plan to host workshops for grade 11 and matric students in the theatre.

Beaming in her crown and sash, the current Miss Teen Cape Town, Zimkita Galela, was in attendance at the launch. “It’s in my community so I’m very grateful and excited,” she said.

Other creatives in the collective include Laduma Ngxokolo, Alexis Dyalvane, Trevor Stuurman, Loyiso Mkize and Atang Tshikare.

Watch the Talk with Issa Diabaté