Generational burdens, matrilineal relationships, labour, love, materiality, and form are just a few of the simultaneously nuanced and far-reaching points of interest in the work of multimedia artist Motlhoki Nono. Currently completing her Honours at University of the Witwatersrand, Nono works predominantly in the realms of printmaking and video, while 2020 has seen her exhibiting work virtually through various South African arts fairs and online panels. The artist is also currently participating in the group show Now-Now, at Gallery 114 in Portland, USA, as well as screening her video work ‘Ledombolo for One’ at the Boda Boda international festival.
Creative Feel caught up with Nono for a reflective Q&A around her current practice, her earliest memories of art-making, showing work in a time of virtual exhibitions, consumption and intuition in art and life, and more.
Creative Feel: What are some of your earliest memories of engaging with art and how do you think these have influenced your practice over the years?
Motlhoki Nono: I grew up in my grandmother’s home, Ausi. This was a white Greek house that was rather peculiarly fitting in the township of Mabopane, Pretoria. She had two paintings that hung on the glossy cream white walls that we were banned from touching with our little dirty hands. My favourite of these was an Abstract painting of three women wearing doeks, by Nico Phooko. Curated around the house were also several ornaments that accentuated the home, particularly the living room, lounge, and kitchen. It was a rather well decorated house with beautiful organic arches, yellow stained glass doors with wooden frames, concrete floors, an elevated stoep with a bush by its side growing these small blue flowers that always clung to your clothes, unbearable heat and the stickiness of mangoes. I can definitely trace my first engagements with art back to my childhood there.
I recall wanting to make things. I’ve always enjoyed working with my hands, feeling and constructing things. I’d always insist on the latest scrapbook kit from CNA whenever we went to the mall.Motlhoki Nono
I’d always be picking things up the sides of the road to go and make things at home. I didn’t know then that I wanted to be an artist. I don’t recall knowing that term, but I knew that I enjoyed making things. What I did however want to be though, was a wedding planner, and a part of me still does, but with my tactless approach to admin and dire lack of punctuality, guests would trickle in with me still hastily setting up at the venue. I laugh, but my lack of punctuality is actually a signal of distress. I only realised that I wanted to be in artist, a painter in particular, in middle school. I enjoyed Abstract Expressionist work and I can definitely trace it back to Ausi’s home. I can trace so many parts of myself to back there. I am so aware of the moments that have shaped who I am.