This week we met up with Joburg based self-taught artist, Semi Lubisi as he shed some light on how growing up in Ivory Park Township has inspired his work.

Semi’s love for art developed at a young age when he would draw cartoon characters in his school books. It was the hardships of his childhood that fueled his passion for the craft even further and in 2019, he left his office job to pursue it as a career.

His artworks are inspired by day to day life of the ordinary people of Ivory Park. He makes use of charcoal, watercolours and acrylics on paper to relate stories and experiences of everyday township life.

Semi’s work reflects the connection he has for his neighbourhood and raises awareness of social issues affecting the communities in the townships.

“I want a person from the township to be able to see my work and be able to recognise it,” he says.

His style involves firm charcoal strokes with soft shades combined with bright colours that bring a sense of vibrance and vividness to his works, reflecting the atmosphere of the township. We joined him at his studio at Ellis House Art Studios.

Located in the inner-city neighbourhood of New Doornfontein, Ellis House Art Studios is a 5-storey building housing a diverse mix of emerging and established artists.

Founded in 2012 by Ian Blacher, what was previously a textile factory has been transformed into a vibrant studio space. 

At present, the studios house over 30 artists. In addition, numerous exhibitions and workshops are held at the warehouse. And what advice does Semi have for fellow township artists? 

“My message for the township is to believe in your dreams and not get demotivated by people who want to bring you down. If you believe in something, work hard for it and eventually that dream will come true.”

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