- Category: Art Scene
- Written by Gisele Turner
There is an exciting trend developing in Durban – the claiming of redundant spaces as places of creative endeavour and artistic trade. The Rickshaw Collective, home to a number of artists from a variety of art disciplines, was recently launched and is proving a going concern. With appropriate space to write, draw, paint, dance, rehearse, perform and teach arts often difficult to find, the Rickshaw Collective is providing the essential space. I chatted to Shelby Strange about it
GP I know Durban is the home of the rickshaw, but is there any particular reason why you and your group have named the space the Rickshaw Collective?
SS We are based at number 106 on Williams Road, Umbilo, which is, historically, the place where rickshaws were manufactured and repaired! So the association was an obvious one. If you stand in the entrance to the factory floor you become aware of the abundant inspiration that lies dormant in this space…
GP What started this initiative and how easy has it been to get it going?
SS Durban’s burgeoning creativity is clearly evident in its dynamic individuals, who possess a myriad of talents across disciplines. The group of people that make up the Rickshaw Collective feel that there are many prospects for the development of symbiotic relationships within the spheres of art, entertainment and education.
Establishing and growing this initiative is an ongoing process; from finding the warehouse, to mobilising artists, to growing public support. Easy is not the word I would use to describe the start of our journey but it is amazing how belief and investment in something can provide one with an abundance of energy and determination.
GP Could you outline the various activities that you plan to host at Rickshaw Collective?
SS We propose a space that enables creative as well as logistical collaborations between typically separate disciplines. Many people who work in arts based industries do so in a freelance capacity and could benefit from having a collective base for artistic processes, such as training and rehearsal. Durban is home to a growing popular culture that is centred on arts-based events/performances and collaborations. We want to foster and develop this perception towards the arts and recognize the potential in this venue as an event, performance and exhibition space.
GP Is there a developmental aspect to the Collective’s mandate?
SS While we want to share the work we create, we aim to impart knowledge that we have gained in our respective fields. Skills based education can facilitate artistic growth by extending the abilities of trainees and equipping them for careers in the arts. For those with commitments outside of the arts, we want to create a place where one may discover or nurture a passion by attending regular classes or workshops at the collective.
GP Who is currently using the space?
SSThe following people make up the Rickshaw Collective and are using the space in varying capacities, from a rehearsal space, to class facility, to performance venue. Vusi Makhanya, Bronwyn Botha, Thobi Maphanga, Julia Wilson, Treasure Ngcobo, Sashin Khandai, Daniella Hartmann, Jean van Elden, Preston Kydd and myself. We are loving being in the space, having access to an inspiring and expansive space in which to work. We continue to grow public interest in the classes that are on offer at the collective.
GP Many young artists battle to find space to work, rehearse or exhibit that is reasonably priced. Are you able to offer affordable space?
SS Yes, that is in fact the very reason for the collective nature of this initiative. A collective base means shared costs. The collective has not been set up to generate income but rather as a platform for artists/practitioners.
GP Tell me something about the event you have lined up for this Friday.
SS It is called Imagination Thought and is choreographed by Vusi Makhanya, who has worked with a number of contemporary dance groups over the years. I’ll let him speak for his own work:
“ A world governed strictly by reason doesn't provide the flexibility for dealing with influences of love, hate, desire, belief, fear, hope, prejudice, aesthetics, excitement, pleasure. However, these have always been the motivating forces that drive history and they present the greatest challenges to human peace and progress. Imagination Thought is about how people adapt and move forward in the face of adversity. Imagination can also cause irreconcilable differences between people's goals and perceptions.”