With Takeover fast approaching, we thought it was only fitting to give you a snapshot of some of the international artists set to grace the iconic venues of Cardiff.
Today’s inspirational performer is Mutle Mothibe, a South African spoken word artist. Our guest blogger Amber Bell met Mutle earlier today for a coffee and a catch-up – and it’s safe to say the Takeover team are extremely excited for his performance with the young members of Grassroots on Saturday!
Mutle’s exceptional talent and humble personality is normally showcased as a member of Word N Sound, a spoken word arts organisation in South Africa. His work is topical, thought-provoking and innovative – and Amber had a fantastic time chatting to him about his inspiration, plans for Takeover and highlights of the event so far…
Q: Can you tell me a bit more about your work – what does being a spoken word artist include?
A: Essentially, it’s all about being a poet. However, I don’t just use the spoken word (despite the title!) – I like to incorporate different mediums of multimedia to keep the whole thing fresh and interesting. I’ve been working with Grass Roots (a charity dedicated to 16 – 25 year olds) as a part of their exhibition this Saturday at the Museum, which has been great. It’s my first time overseas – in South Africa I work as part of Word N Sound, a platform bringing together older practitioners of literature with youths, to encourage and inspire them and to give them a sense of the trajectory of a literary career. So this project is very similar, and I’m really happy to be a part of it.
Q: What inspired you to become a spoken word artist?
A: I have loved writing since I was in Grade 5 – back then I used it as a form of escapism and expression. It was a medium to express things I had pent up inside. Throughout University, I began to explore the performance side of the art – since then, I just seemed to become a spoken word artist professionally… 10 years and still going strong!
Q: What does your work tend to be about?
A: Mostly where I am in my life – be that relationships, social issues, personal struggles… in a nutshell, the things that are effecting me at that time. That’s why it is such a fantastic form of expression. I try to be really creative with the way I project this. I like to use more than just words; I fuse music, dance and images together to create a representation as a whole. This isn’t typical of spoken word artists at all. With my work, you’ll find contemporary dancers on stage, breakdancers, live singers… anything I can incorporate to make the work special.
For this project, I have been working with 18 – 25 year olds from disadvantaged backgrounds, and have created a piece using the information I have gained from them. We have been holding workshops with them since Monday, through until this Friday at Grass Roots. On Monday, the kids weren’t as keen to get involved. But then we created a video for them, showing them what we wanted to do. We showed them the video, and today the workshop was absolutely packed! It was an incredible sight. That shift was the nicest thing for me so far. It was a bit like coaxing the cat… we had to show them how cool it could be, and then just sat back and watched the crowds build!
Q: Why did you want to get involved with Takeover Cardiff?
A: I was chosen by the British Council as part of an exchange programme in South Africa. There’s a really interactive relationship here, in which artists from South Africa come to Wales to showcase their work, and vice versa. I know that the British Council would like to see this event extended in the future, and I am excited to hopefully be a part of that.
Takeover Cardiff is a great way to connect as an artist with other artists. I am staying with two other poets – Michael from New York City and Martin from Wales. It’s fantastic as we feed off one another, and can exchange any tips or advice. It’s great fun to have three creative individuals under one roof.
Q: Do you think events like Takeover Cardiff are important to promote the arts to a younger audience?
A: Absolutely, but also on the flip side they expose younger artists to an older generation! We are holding our showcase at the museum – a place normally associated with older individuals. So it will be exciting to give this audience a taste of the work by young individuals from the community, and literally put the talent right in front of their faces. A lot of the kids we are working with thought you had to pay to visit the museum! So I hope this will also open a lot more doors for them in that respect, introducing them to iconic venues around the city.
Q: What do you hope to get out of your work with Takeover Cardiff?
A: Firstly, I hope we can create an opportuny for kids to take advantage of – there are a lot of chances waiting for them, particularly in great places like Grass Roots, that I hope we can raise awareness of. Grass Roots provides a safe place for kids to harness any artistic inspiration they have, as well as offering several free courses (such as sound and engineering)!
For me, the whole experience – seeing how other artists carry out their work and approach their craft – is a great opportunity. All the connections I have already made makes it very worthwhile! The arts community of Wales is so welcoming, and everyone seems really happy to help. There’s a very communal feel to it all – a very different atmosphere to my work in South Africa.
Q: What can we expect from Saturday’s showcase?
A: Lots of surprises! When I left South Africa, I had one idea in my head. Since then, it has changed many times! The show as it is now is much more collaborative – but it is still constantly changing. There will be clips scattered throughout for people to watch, as well as break dancing, contemporary movement, live music and singing. Fundamentally, I just want to expose the audience to everything the kids can do!
Mutle’s latest work, assembled in Cardiff with Grassroots, is here:
To take a look at the work Mutle does with Word N Sound, have a look at their website: http://wordnsound.wordpress.com/about-2/ .
This project would not have been possible without the support and assistance of Connect ZA – http://connectza.tumblr.com/
Find out more about Grass Roots Cardiff here: http://www.grassrootscardiff.com/
For more information on Takeover Cardiff, and a list of our partners, go to http://www.britishcouncil.org/wales-arts-takeover-cardiff-toc.htm
Join the conversation on Twitter @bcwales, Like ‘British Council Wales’ on Facebook, Hashtag: #TOC #YoungCurators.