A series of short informational films, geared for use in workshop or classroom situations, provide an introduction to how a number of artists, musicians and writers shaped their artistic expressions. This provides an introduction to understanding the roots of South African aesthetics. The short films are accompanied by a series of booklets which expand on themes introduced.  These materials are designed for aspirant artists, writers and musicians between 15-25 years of age. They are available free of charge for bona fide arts educational institutions and community art centres.

Robert Edward Jansen “Robbie Jansen” Jazz Musician 1949 – 2010

Robbie Jansen tells how he became a popular and original saxophonist, flautist and singer. He transitioned from working in a knitting factory and being a pop singer on weekends to playing original music with the leading musicians of his time and made his own albums.

Ghoema Rhythms

The early slave history at the Cape created a creole culture.  We explore the origins of Goema Rhythms in the creole culture and their ongoing vitality in Cape music today.

Makwarela Elizabeth Makahane – Traditional Potter

Ceramic artist Makwarela Elizabeth Makahane tells who she is and how she makes her beautiful pots, demonstrating together with and for her granddaughters the methods and knowledge involved in this ancient art. From collecting the clay to cleaning it, pounding it and preparing it, to shaping and decorating the pots and then firing them.  She reflects on how the system of art exchange has changed and her hopes for this art to continue.

Lefifi Tladi – Poet and Painter

Lefifi Tladi, poet, painter and musician explains how aesthetics are formed by the alertness of senses. He engages some young poets comparing conditions of his youth and now and speaks of the importance of preparing work for programmes versus events. We see him in his studio where he talks about indigenous knowledge in relation to his paintings and the important role of women in pre-industrial and cave painting. He stresses the importance of studying in order to read art and interpret music.

Poet Laureate Kearapetse Kgositsile “Bra Willie” 1938 – 2018

The artistic development, and visions of the Poet Laureate of the Nation, Keorapetse William Kgositsile, commonly known as “Bra Willie” are revealed. He is seen performing with a jazz band, as he often did when living in exile in New York where he was a significant influence on the black arts movement in the US. It allows Bra Willie to tell his life story, rooted in travel and the values inculcated in him by his mother and grandmother

Sbonelo Tau Luthuli

Is an extraordinarily talented and intellectually aware young ceramic artist from Durban now in his early 30’s. His ceramic pots tap into a collective ancient knowledge of ceramics as much as they are a deeply personal and dynamic contemporary art expression.

Solomon Tshekiso Plaatje.  9 October 1876 – 19 June 1932

Sol Plaatje writer, statesman, publisher, journalist entrepreneur great orator had a vision of a fair equal and just South Africa which encompassed every language group. His accomplishments are well documented in numerous publications, his own and others. He lived as an African in a society where what was white was acceptable, was civilized, yet he fought to record and preserve his language. People who know his life story and his work explain the values he lived by and how he acquired them

Omar Badsha’s Eye – Artist Photographer

Omar Badsha, now in his 71st year has been a social documentary photographer, artist, activist and intellectual for much of his life. Growing up in the port city of Durban before the impact of group areas he was exposed to many different cultures, religions and ideas and learned to navigate between them. A school drop-out, who has just received an honorary doctorate, he has always been an active intellectual keen to record the tumultuous events he lived through.

Jack Lerole – “Big voice Jack”  Penny whistler 1940 – 2003

Aaron “Big Voice” Jack Lerole (c. 1940 – 12 March 2003) was a singer and penny whistle player and a leading performer in the kwela music of 1950s South Africa. In this short film he tells us how it all started and introduces the basics of different musical forms: marabi, tshaba tshaba, kwela and mbaqanga.

Sokhaya Charles Nkosi  – Artist and art educator

Born in Durban in 1949 and involved in drawing and painting from primary school until now.   Then and now the struggle to get an arts education is hugeCharles describes how he and his young friends had no art education but were pregnant with desire to express themselves so found sketch books and taught themselves using comics as inspiration. He pays tribute to his mentor Eric Ngcobo who encouraged him to do art and carry on sketching. Richly illustrated with Charles’ vibrant abstract paintings this short film shows his lifelong commitment to sharing the skills he struggled to obtain.

Jazz Conversations

Barney Rachabane jazz saxophonist , Dorothy Masuku jazz singer , Sokhaya Charles Nkosi artist and jazz afficianado, Bhekisiza Khoza, jazz guitarist , open up to Fitzroy Ngcukana  jazz singer and impresario about what it is that makes South African Jazz uniquely South African.

Peter Clarke 1929 – 2014 Visual Artist – Writer – Poet

As a young man Peter was denied access to galleries, couldn’t afford art school so learnt though going to bookshops to leaf through art history books. He took inspiration from a newspaper article in 1948 reporting that Gerard Sekoto, a black man was going to study art in Paris. This made him feel that he, also a black man and son of a domestic worker could be an artist too. His paintings and prints record the life and fortitude of his community

Seipati Bulane Hopa – Intuitive Designer 

Seipati shares her inspiration: When painters look at landscape, they sometimes they see beyond the landscape and when sculptors will take a log and create something of great beauty out of it. When I see clothes I honestly feel they are talking to me, they want my response, you know. So I take them from where they are as created beings and give them life because I feel that there is an exchange of fare? sharing between me and that because they are waiting to be taken care of and be brought to life and that is exactly what I do.

Louis Moholo – Free Jazz Drummer

The last surviving member of the Blue Notes, the extraordinarily exciting free jazz drummer, Louis Moholo performs with talented young pianist Kyle Mcahlachlan ( check spelling) and tells his story.

Joseph Ndlovu  – Master weaver

Between 1974 and 1976 Ndlovu studied art at the ELC Art and Craft Centre at Rorke’s Drift, and obtained a fine arts diploma. He has organised youth and community projects in art, drama, dance, creative writing, craft photography and informal education. He has taken part in a number of group exhibitions in South Africa and his work is represented in a number of public institutions in this country. A quiet man known as perhaps the greatest weaver in South Africa talks about his art and what inspires him for the first time. We see him at work on his loom completing a commission for the Constitutional Court Art Trust