Orms Circle Mentorship Programme 2020 Artist Mentee: Lesego Seoketsa

INTERVIEWED BY Michaela Stehr IMAGES courtesy of Lesego Seoketsa

Local visual artist Lesego Seoketsa has been selected as the artist mentee for the 2020 Orms Circle Mentorship Programme.

The programme, launched in 2019, aims to provide a platform for women-identifying artists to achieve industry visibility and support, extending their professional network. We chatted to Lesego, who will receive a guided mentorship and a solo exhibition in collaboration with Orms, about the programme, inspirations and her artistic journey.

What does the Orms Circle Mentorship Programme mean to you?

Personally, I believe that an opportunity such as this creates a ripple effect of growth and representation within the photography and art industries. I am very grateful that I am the chosen artist for 2020 and I don’t take it lightly. I only hope to learn as much as I can, to equip myself for working as an artist and to also share the knowledge that I am taking in through the mentorship programme.

How did your artistic journey start?

As a child, I was always awestruck by images of my family and the idea of memories being treasured through photography. Photography has always been dear to my heart – it opened my eyes to different expressions of visual art. I also have a clear memory of being 10-years-old in Grade 4 and having my first art exhibition at my primary school. My teacher said I was the best in the class and showed my drawings to the Grade 5 class as an example. That gave me confidence in myself as a creative child – I felt seen and validated.

What inspires your work?

I am inspired by stories of South Africans, and more specifically, our heritage, which contains our past, present and future. We live in such a diverse and beautiful country and I believe that our stories deserve to be seen and heard. I am also inspired by the process of being confrontational with the “self”, as well as the search for identity as people existing in this country. This has caused me to also look at neighbouring countries, such as Zimbabwe and Botswana, as sources of inspiration. I am learning that we are strongly connected to our neighbouring countries.

Your work tells a visual story. What do you hope people take from your imagery?

I am currently drawn towards stories of liberation for marginalised people, as well as how to attain social liberty. I am in a state of questioning what power and freedom mean for myself and for those who are still fighting for equality. This mentorship programme has caused me to unravel what I know and truly reflect on my relationship with power and how that affects my perceived identity.

What do you wish to take from your eight-week experience with Orms?

I wish to experience transformation as an individual and as someone who aspires to grow in their practice. I know that this experience will be life-changing and I wish to come out of it as a better visual creative. I have confidence that I will finish this experience as a different person than when I started.

Are there any other local artists who inspire you?

South Africa has brilliant artists, and this is something I am grateful for! I am usually inspired by the journeys of artists more than the final products of their works. Right now, I am inspired by photographer Andile Buka. I appreciate that he archives images and the fact that he predominantly shoots on film. There is something so innately beautiful about his visual storytelling and I appreciate his evolution as an artist.

What are your hopes and dreams for the future?

I hope to work as a visual creative and continue to tell my stories. I also hope to encourage and mentor others who are also on this career path, so that they can gain access to opportunities. I believe in the potential of our industry to grow even bigger than it is currently.

Where can people get hold of your work?

I am currently represented by Undiscovered Canvas, an art agency based in France. People can find my work through the agency’s website: undiscovered-canvas.com. They can also get hold of my work directly through me – my email address is azaniaforest1@gmail.com.

Follow Lesego on Instagram at @azaniaforest and @lesegoseoketsastudio.