In line with their innovative #MadeOfTaste campaign, The Singleton teamed up with Anthony Bila to host a night of wonder and sensation and, of course, exceptional whisky and whisky cocktails. Creative Feel spoke to Bila about this collaboration and his work as a multi-talented ‘expressionist’.
Creative Feel: Who is Anthony Bila, The Expressionist, and how would you define your creative style?
Anthony Bila: I am a creator, a storyteller at my core. I use various mediums like motion picture, photography, illustration, writing and music to express and tell my story and share those of others too. My creative style isn’t so much described as it’s felt, but essentially I want to bring Africa to the world and the world to Africa by redefining how we’re perceived by ourselves and the world at large. My creative style is based in sharing my point of view but also empathising and inhabiting those other perspectives for one reason and one reason only, to connect with the world around me, the people around me.
CF: The collaboration with The Singleton was about your photographic work, tell us more about the photographic images.
AB: As cliché as it is, pictures really are a universal language in many ways. They can communicate so much that language often becomes a barrier towards. Photography is what I am most known for currently despite my foray into other disciplines and interests. The Singleton approached me because they found like-mindedness in my approach to creativity and creating. The images I selected to exhibit were from two of my favourite projects I’ve done in recent history, Black History March volume one and two respectively. The images speak to being African at various times in history and celebrating that blackness unapologetically.
CF: Tell us more about the collaboration, how did it come about and what was the brief?
AB: The Singleton was interested in collaborating with various prominent people in South Africa’s burgeoning black creative class. The creative individuals featured were the likes of Rich Mnisi, Punk and Ivy, I See A Different You, Austin Malema and, of course, myself. Just in those few people, there are illustrators, musicians, designers, graphic designers, art directors, directors and photographers to name a few disciplines. We were all tasked to create a unique dinner experience where we hosted followers, collaborators, contemporaries and others. We created the decor, the drinks, the menu and the theme in accordance with our own personal preference and style.
CF: How do you express, through photography, ‘taste’ in the way that you would fashion, without using food or drink?
AB: I think taste is subjective and is only as good as what you consume, the same way a good, healthy diet means you have a healthy body. A creative taste diet is also good, consuming inspiring work by the world’s most accomplished and recognised creative people and organisations means you’re already in good stead to create or at least aspire to create work at the same level or beyond. You need to be a student of whatever field you work in or have an interest and beyond it, in my capacity as a photographer some of my most inspired concepts and work have been born from fields as far reaching as architecture, fine art, literature, film, fashion and more. There are lessons in everything that can inform your palate or ‘taste’.
CF: You have been called ‘an urban phenomenon’ due to your street style fashion blog. Could you imagine living in another city? What do you like about Joburg?
AB: I love Johannesburg and I’ve lived here all my life, I’ve also been fortunate to work in Ireland, England, Germany, China, Singapore to name a few places. The way my career is going I am going to live in a foreign city, it’s just a matter of when and I would welcome the change and perspective shift, I think it would inform my work in an interesting way. I have ambitions of working in New York for a while and Tokyo too as well as short stints across our own very continent, Nairobi and Lagos are on my list too. Johannesburg will always be home though and after I’ve roamed, I’ll always come home.
CF: What are your favourite hangouts in Joburg? Where do you find your inspiration?
AB: I enjoy the anywhere with good restaurants and galleries, so Kalashnikov, Circa, Keyes Art Mile, Parkhurst, Jeppestown or Maboneng and other small intimate spaces like these really make the city interesting and amazing. I love exploring Johannesburg.