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Five Questions with Neo Maditla

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Neo Maditla is Editor in Chief of Design Indaba online, South Africa's leading design and creativity platform. features some of the best talent on the African continent and from around the globe. Not only is Neo passionate about African art, but she's also a seasoned writer with experience in print, TV and online. We just had to have her on the Rise Art Prize panel for Africa and the Middle East.

 1. What’s your favourite art gallery?
I love the Iziko South African National Gallery in Cape Town. It has a massive collection and I always go there, alone or with friends, and I just spend hours on end looking through the work. It's located in massive public park where one can go for a picnic, visit the restaurant or even take a stroll down Government Avenue so see the monument commissioned by Design Indaba in honour of Archbishop Tutu called Arch for Arch.

Cape Town's Iziko South African National Gallery.

2. What’s your favourite inspirational quote?
Live each day as if it is your last. Not sure who originally said that but this has been a guiding principle in my life and work where I always ask myself: should I not wake up tomorrow, would any of this matter? If not I try to make the changes and if yes, then it means I am in a happy place, like right now.

Arch for Arch, commissioned by Design Indaba in honour of Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu.

3. If you could host any 3 people (living or dead) for dinner, who would they be?
Amy Winehouse because her music impacted me so much in my early 20s and only understanding some of the songs fully now that I am older; my late mom Paulinah Maditla because she was wise beyond her years and I would like her to know I finally understand all the lessons she taught me; and South African poet Mbali Vilakazi, as I find her work really moving and think the four of us would have the best conversations.

One of Neo's favourite pieces by Lionel Davis at the Iziko National Gallery.

4. What’s your favourite art world trend right now?
That young artists are finally getting the attention they deserve and doing work that challenges the white gaze as well as tired tropes on what is / isn’t “African art”. That discussion is so boring. I love seeing, hearing and being part of those discussions - both on the continent and in the diaspora.

5. Who are some of your favourite artists?
Mario Macilau's black and white photography is stirring and moves me every time.

(c) Mario Macilau

Nkuli Mlangeni is another of my favourite artists. She won the Design Indaba’s MBOISA (Most Beautiful Object in South Africa) last year. I own one of her Sankara rugs, but I want more because she found a way of effortlessly bringing the art of weaving into the contemporary space and making it relevant to a younger market while also helping to create livelihoods for the weavers.

One of Nkuli Mlangeni's rugs.

And then there's Serge Alain Nitegeka, a Burundian artist whose work explores migration. I love the way he fuses sculpture and painting. 

Colour & Form in BLACK by Serge Alain Nitegeka.


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