Lorde Poses 7 Questions To Some Of The Talented Young Artists On Her Radar

In conversation with a singer, an abstract painter, a film writer and a maker-of-all-things

Nganeko. Photo / Babiche Martens

NGANEKO

Who are you, and what do you do?
My name is Nganeko. I make music and iron clothes for a living.

What are you working on at the moment that’s exciting you?
I’ve been working on a piece with local producers that I’m hoping to release this year and a few features that I’m excited for everyone to be able to hear too.

How have the last two years changed you as an artist?
I had writer’s block for the majority of it but now I get inconsistent spurts of inspiration to write stuff I genuinely enjoy so, that’s pretty humbling. I’ve found mean-as new and old music from artists like Suzanne Ciani, Bashfortheworld and Deva Mahal in the last two years that are definitely inspiring me musically somehow, now or later.

What’s one nugget of wisdom you’ve found illuminating within your practice?
To believe in yourself.

What do your mornings look like?
I’m pretty good at being a slug so it mostly looks pretty relaxed and chill. It’s just breakfast, eating, cleaning. A shower. Then chill till my plans happen but if I’ve got none, it’s Neon time. And I’ll probably go for a walk/run or change my room too.

What are you most proud of?
I found ways to deal with my social anxiety and writer’s block.

What does ‘designing a better future’ mean to you?
Unity, discipline and determination.

Photo / Supplied

RUTH IGE

Who are you and what do you do?
My name is Ruth Ige. I am a Nigerian-born, Auckland-based abstract figurative painter.

What are you working on at the moment that is exciting you?
I have an exhibition on at Roberts Projects Gallery in California called Between Two Dimensions, so I am resting and recouping from that. However, I’m still sketching, researching and brainstorming ideas for my upcoming exhibitions. I’m excited to push the scale of my paintings. The biggest painting I have done, which is on view at Roberts Projects Gallery, is 198cm tall. I plan on doing a painting that is 239cm tall. I’m excited to see how it turns out. Also there are some contextual shifts in my work that I’m extremely pleased by.

How have the last two years changed you as an artist?
I have tried to incorporate self-care practices into my art practice. Especially with what is going on in the world and with the pandemic things can feel heavy. As artists we often burn ourselves out quickly. I strongly believe it’s important to take care of our mind, body and emotional health, especially during this time. In the last two years I have gotten opportunities to have my work in New York (Karma gallery), Art Basel Miami Beach, Frieze London, Los Angeles and Cape Town (Stevenson Gallery), which I’m extremely grateful for. I’m still learning to prioritise moments of rest among the growing success. I’m bad at it and often overwork myself.

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What’s one nugget of wisdom you’ve found illuminating within your practice?
I think for me it has been to follow my gut and be myself no matter what. It might seem cliched, but it’s the most important thing that has gotten me to where I am in my career as an artist. I see painting as a form of visual language or a form of visual poetry. Each artist or creative has their own distinct visual language, but sometimes as artists we might feel pressured to conform. For me, sticking to my own visual language has carved out a path for me. Exploring and pushing the creative boundaries while still holding on to the foundation of who I am is something that I wholeheartedly believe in.

What do your mornings look like?
As a painter my mornings vary. I don’t have a fixed routine. One morning I might be in the studio completing a painting for an upcoming show. The next morning I could be getting the paintings ready to be shipped to a gallery or ordering canvases and paint. Most of my mornings recently have been spent emailing, doing art research and reading art books. Sometimes I take time to relax and watch a TV show, listen to music or do some online shopping.

What are you most proud of?
That I stuck to my creative voice as a painter and artist.

What does ‘designing a better future’ mean to you?
‘Designing a better future’ to me is one of inclusivity. A future of empathy, understanding and equality. I feel art has the power to do that. As a Black woman I hope that my art expands how people see Blackness within art, the everyday and within society. I also hope it inspires more people within the POC community to become artists.

Photo / Nicole Brannen

RUBY HARRIS

Who are you, and what do you do?
I am Ruby. A Pakeha film-maker from Dunedin, living in Auckland. I love to make films, cook yum food and swim at the beach.

What are you working on at the moment that’s exciting you?
I am slowly writing my first feature film! It’s a psychological thriller/drama based on the town I grew up in and I’m getting spooked just writing it. I am also working on a cookbook which is a collection of 25 recipes that will be released in early April for friends and family. It’s the best process of cooking and eating food with friends, getting feedback and having too many excuses for dinner parties.

How have the last two years changed you as an artist?
They have reminded me of the importance of connection and collaboration that my work and personality rely and thrive on. And the importance of creating a routine and knowing what’s within my control then trying to let go of what isn’t.

What’s one nugget of wisdom you’ve found illuminating within your practice?
Nobody cares about it as much as you do.

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What do your mornings look like?
My mornings are my favourite time of the day! I wake up, go for a run, make a coffee, have a shower. I like to sit on a plastic chair outside and have my coffee while thinking about what’s going to happen in my day, admire my dying plants in the garden,
make a smoothie then go to work.

What are you most proud of?
My friends and family. They are a big part of what makes me who I am. I am constantly inspired by them and so proud to know them all.

What does ‘designing a better future’ mean to you?
Questioning people’s intentions, why they are doing things, what is it for? Who should tell a story and why it should be told. Creating more opportunities for non-white cis men to up-skill and tell their stories with financial and industry support.

Photo / Supplied

RYDER JONES

Who are you, and what do you do?
I’m Ryder Jones. I’m 29. I make things, all kinds of things and maybe they are all the same thing because it is me who made them. Lately I’ve been drawing and taking pictures.

What are you working on at the moment that’s exciting you?
I just finished working on your merch! That was exciting, drawing graphics and crazy fonts over and over. Making artwork in response to music has been a freeing experience, trying to visualise how an album or song might look on the page is a dream job for sure.

How have the last two years changed you as an artist?
I stopped striving. We had our son. I felt like I went through a doorway and now I’m in a new room. I used to want to impress people and be cool, it’s embarrassing to say, but it takes up too much energy and I’m glad the desire is wilting. Now I try to make work for myself and a very small group of people in mind, people who I respect and love.

What’s one nugget of wisdom you’ve found illuminating within your practice?
‘With my back to the world.’ That’s from Agnes Martin; she also wrote ‘Beauty is the mystery of life’. I like to keep both of those things in mind.

What do your mornings look like?
I like to wake up before the sun. It’s dark as I write this now. I feel the glow of coffee, if I weren’t writing this I would be reading or working on writing for a while before [my wife] Ophelia and [son] Emanuel wake up.

What are you most proud of?
I’m proud of Ophelia, and I am proud of my son. Ophelia has a mysterious and beautiful power. My son is just a baby but I look at him and I’m proud. And then some days, when I find a little grace I am proud of myself for like one whole second! Lol.

What does ‘designing a better future’ mean to you?
For me that means action. Actual movements in the world and factoring that into a way of being. This is an aspiration and an ongoing practice. I think it is very overwhelming when we zoom out and take stock of a situation that can feel very out of our control. For me, being kind, asking questions and talking to strangers and young people are important. Finding ways to be content and not always want more.

This story was originally published in volume seven of Viva Magazine.

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