Thursday, January 2, 2014

2013, a summary of the year past and welcoming the new year

2013 was a year of highs and lows for me, of lessons learned and new experiences. It was also a year in which I received a most precious gift, my daughter. The last half of the year brought some really big challenges but also some very important changes for me. I got into a rut and really needed something to galvanize me. I got involved in some very interesting projects, in particular with Omenka Magazine in the capacity of Joburg Editor. For my first assignment I did a number of interviews, the highlight being an interview with veteran South African contemporary photographer, David Goldblatt against the backdrop of the death of Nelson Mandela on the 5th of December, 2013.

Another highlight of the year was celebrating my father's 80th birthday, it was good to have most of the family together as well well as close friends. It is important to mark these milestones in our parent's lives as we can't be sure that they will make it to the next milestone.

I look forward to what 2014 brings, I suspect that there will be major shifts professionally and personally.
In the meantime I ushered in the new year with a few friends with a lovely lunch in my garden.

Bring it on I say!!!

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Conferences, Networking, Interviews and Opportunities

Last week I was fortunate to have attended the ACT/UJ Conference looking at ways of stimulating the art trade. The content this year was certainly richer and perhaps more relevant than that of last year but one mustn't be too critical after all this is only the second conference in the series. In terms of sort of coming away with useful and actionable information, the first and second days were much more productive for me personally. In particular, the presentation by Ravi Naidoo on Design Indaba. I thought that was a great model for starting a project with long-term targets and most importantly being able to quantify both in monetary and creative terms the benefits derived from staging this annual design fair that has become a benchmark for design products not only on the African continent but internationally as well. It has also put South African designers/designs and crafts on a world class platform.

In terms of personal gains, it was great to reconnect with people in the creative sector that I have worked with but also to make new contacts. Particularly within this period that I am looking for new employment opportunities. But I also strongly feel that South Africa needs to forge more sustained connections with the rest of the continent and not continue to instinctively align themselves with the West. In my opinion there is a huge market that is as yet for the most part untapped for cultural goods and services that needs to be developed across regions on the continent. I believe that as cultural entrepreneurs of creative goods and services, we need to tap into this market. We need to begin to build more sustained networks and collaborations between regions. It is really a shame that as a continent we keep looking to the West as our main source of trade for cultural goods and services when we can build on and develop a massive commercial enterprise within the continent. 

Yes I am aware of all the challenges including the very high cost of transportation of goods and people around the continent. But I think the onus lies on our governments to create easy and cheap access and to support cultural entrepreneurship and the creative industries to enable free trade across borders and regions. What is the AU's mandate and how is it tackling these issues? Is it actually tackling these issues and if so what is on its agenda and what are the targeted results in the next 5 to 10 years? We have the ingredients to stimulate a robust trade of creative goods and services on the African continent and we should begin to address the challenges in practical ways to enable us achieve our collective and individual goals.

So, yes it is important to have these kinds of platforms where everyone meets to deliberate but at the end we need to have actionable objectives. For me, it was not a bad outing although some of the presentations were not particularly useful in my view but generally they were helpful in terms of refreshing information on where we are as a sector and also re-activating my own ideas and objectives. And it's good to be seen at these things even though as a networking tool it generally works for people who already have projects that they are working on together so this gives them a great opportunity to meet and work. Having said that I believe you create opportunities for yourself you don't wait for things to happen you make them happen.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

When challenges become lessons and triumphs...

When I embarked on this journey of "motherhood", I really had no idea what I was getting into or what I was doing. I was sort of swept away on the tide of something that has fundamentally changed my life. The things that used to be so important to me no longer seem to be that important. I am a very independent individual, not in a way that pushes people away because I was brought up in a society and particularly an environment that valued community and looking out for each other (sad that this is not so much the case now). I am also learning some interesting things about myself. 

As a mother, the well-being of your child/children is so dependent on your well-being. If you are not at peace within yourself this affects your child/children deeply, if you are at peace with yourself your child/children bloom like wild flowers under the umbrella of your mental and physical well-being. That is a major lesson that I am learning. You must put aside your own issues to be able to create a safe and loving environment for your child/children, it's as simple and as complex as that. But the wonderful thing is that when you do put your child's/children's needs before yours it helps you deal with issues better because your focus is not on yourself but on what you need to do to ensure that the safe and loving environment you've built for your child/children is sustained.

Here I am job hunting but I am more relaxed than I have been since the beginning of the year. I have time to be with my daughter, to spend quality time with her and I can see her blossoming under my undivided attention. And it gives me such a sense of joy and accomplishment, lately I am actually beginning to feel like a mother. It is the best feeling in the world, it really is. My daughter is such an interesting character and I am enjoying getting to know her more every day. She is her own person, she's loving, funny, stubborn, sweet, kind and caring. I think she's a natural leader and I can't wait to see what she grows up to be.

I know, I know... every parent can wax lyrical about their offspring for hours on end. Okay maybe not every parent but a majority of them.

I've strapped on my seat belt for the ride of my life and so far it's going well. Fingers crossed that the teen years will be a blast????

I hope so!!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Charting a new course

Life can sometimes take a sudden unexpected and seemingly unpleasant turn. That is what happened to me on the 11th of July. Interestingly I was surprisingly calm and accepting of something that should have had me breaking out in hives. Leaving was preferable to the unbearable tension that I had been laboring under, even worse being in an environment where it seemed like I was under siege. Believe me I tried to be objective and put things in perspective and I was not mistaken in my assessment at all. I believe in team work, in the team, the spirit of working together in sync of supporting and having each others' backs. My experience was most unpleasant and for the first time in my professional experience I felt that I was not a valued member of the team. Indeed there was no team anyway just egos and personal agendas. Quite a shame because there is so much untapped potential.

But here I am ostensibly footloose and fancy free and not feeling too hard done by. This has forced me to re-evaluate my long term goals and how I plan on achieving my career objectives. For a long time I was searching for something that would combine academia and commerce. I allowed myself to drift on the tides of opportunity and happen chance. Even though there has been a method to my madness so to speak it's time to consolidate the various streams of my professional experience into one strong component. I believe I am now ready for that critical first step that will take me to my final destination. I am excited and somewhat daunted but actually more confident and with a clearer vision of what lies ahead and how to navigate towards my aims and objectives. The past 3 years have been invaluable in getting me to this point and I don't regret the course my career took over the past 10 years and where it has ultimately brought me.

Sometimes to chart a new course we need to be stopped in our tracks completely and forced to rethink our course. That is what I'm doing currently and I believe opportunities will open up in my area of interest. They are already beginning to. One thing that I am happy about is that my departure was amicable in the end, it is never a good thing to burn your bridges no matter what.

Wish me luck!!!