Siphiwe: Creating Whilst Isolating Series
Get to know South East London based Artist and Film Photographer, Siphiwe, as she takes over 50m’s Instagram. Join her for an exclusive Q&A and live life drawing session.
‘For me the process of making work is a cathartic one. I sketch until I’ve exhausted myself and worked out every possible line. For someone who lives with anxiety, it is an essential element to keeping me centred. I have to have music or a podcast on to drown out the noise in my mind.’
Siphiwe curated four playlists for the 50m Community to listen to throughout the duration of her takeover;
What college did you go to?
I did a foundation in art at Ravensbourne college and then a BA in Textile Printing at The University of The Creative Arts Farnham. I still loved in London so I would commute five days a week for around 4 hours a day! Farnham are one of the only universities in the UK who still have printing facilities so it was an invaluable experience. Stressful but glad I did it.
Where do you get the inspiration for your work?
Life experiences, Ex’s, Zimbabwe, family, friendships, architecture, dance, looking at my body, Picasso, Keith Haring, Francis Bacon, Rachel Whitehead and Egon Schiele.
What is the most challenging thing when you’re working on a piece?
I’d say getting stated after having a long break away from drawing can be very daunting. I can start to doubt myself and forget how to draw if that makes sense. I forget the process of drawing. I work best in the afternoons after I’ve gone for a workout and had time to switch off my brain. Another challenging thing is keeping on top of all the other things that dint include painting! There is so much admin involved in getting your work out there that art school didn’t teach. Like writing proposals, making websites, invoicing, applying for residences.. sometimes it feels like I’m doing 70% admin/30%painting!
Would you consider translating your drawings into other mediums? Sculpture, video, etc.?
I would! I have always visioned my work being multidimensional. I am a massive fan of Christo & Jeanne - Claude and Rachel Whiteread and Barbara Hepworth. I love sculpture and can see my abstract figures wrapped around buildings in the future! And yes, Video! I need a team of Videographers!
Do you see your work as being political? Is that something you think while making?
I think being a black women is political. 2020 has been a hard year for the black community as we have seen overt racism be spread in such a vile way. So when I draw my black abstract figures, I’m drawing them dancing or having a moment of elevation of reflection. Black trauma shouldn’t be the norm. I created 4 pieces of art in response to George Floyds murder as a way to release the pain and frustration I felt watching him die on camera. I think it’s important to have a voice and one your own voice. There are so many people trying to speak for blackness who aren’t black so ownership is key!
What role ford feminism play in your practice?
A massive one! I’ve been brought up in a female lean family with my mother and aunts being the driving force in the household. Emotionally, financially etc. I wouldn’t have the ambition I have today without them leading by example. I focus on the black female nude because we need to take ownership of our own voices and bodies. We have had our bodily features and character stolen, remixed, diluted and caricatured for profit for centuries. Feminism is needed for both women and men. To set us free from the grip of these ridiculous boxes and prisons set by society.
Has the style of your art changed over the years? Have you grown into this style?
Yes! I used to graffiti on the streets of London once upon a time! You can see that in my work with the inclusion of the different words. Some reading, some jumbled. But I think my work is hopefully coming together to the core of who I am. All the different influences from the graffiti, textiles, drawings, to the photography are all coming together. We continue!
Watch Siphiwe's Life Drawing Class below;