Thanks to the creative and socially-responsive vision of four young adults – Thulani Fesi, Mangaliso Sobukwe, Mpilo Ngcukana , and Shaun Williams from Langa in Cape Town, a new art space has opened in the city. There are many aspects of this gallery that are worth celebrating – one of them being that it is located outside the tight (and often exclusive) geographic confines of the ‘art scene’ in Cape Town. The gallery is situated on Lerotholi Avenue, not far from the N2 Bhunga Avenue entrance into Langa – after exiting the city centre.
It is a small but well-designed space, filled with natural light, beautiful artworks and the smell of fresh coffee. Not only does the gallery offer visitors the rare pleasure of seeing the artists’ creative process, but it also addresses the problem that artists in economically-disadvantaged areas often face of not having access to a studio.
The establishment of a gallery – a dedicated space that gives art an official home, makes the dream of having an exhibition now much more tangible for young artists from Langa. The founders hope to incorporate young locals beginning even at school level into the space – they hope to inspire and motivate potential and practicing artists. Another exciting possibility that 16 on Lerotholi has is the ability to bring creatives from around Cape Town into Langa; to allow for collaborations.
Shaun and Mangaliso explain that they wanted to establish a space “to create an opportunity that hasn’t been there before”.
The long-term dream for them is to turn Langa into a creative hub and a safe environment which becomes a touchpoint for the engagement of creatives throughout Cape Town (much like Woodstock has become with sophisticated work and art spaces, bars, and cafes).
“We don’t want to be ‘a gallery in town’, but we also don’t want to be just a space in a township. We are holding ourselves to an extremely high standard, and we want to be taken seriously.”
For its first exhibition and artist-in-residence, the gallery will be hosting fine artist, Mongezi Gum, and a collection of his recent large-scale charcoal drawings depicting animated, vivid and hopeful scenes of people in a movement. Gum was born in Langa in 1970, he has exhibited his work both in South Africa and abroad. Going forward, the gallery will select artists and curators they want to work with, with a primary focus on young, black womxn.
Written by Ella Petousis.