Working class heroes: Locals only

Working Class is a creative art collective. Independently they are organising new and irreverent art exhibitions, taking away the art from the traditional gallery spaces. We spoke to Durban based artists Skullboy about the concept, their current Locals only series and some of their future plans. 

Tell us a little bit about Locals only and how the concept for the exhibitions came about?

Basically, we were talking about the flood of our friends moving from Durban to Cape Town lately and how there is some sort of underlying turf warfare going on. We then unpacked this and thought how cool it would be if we literally turned it into one and pitted city against city in some sort of exhibition. Then obviously, through a few weeks of conversations and meetings, we came up with the final idea of getting 6 artists from each city and giving them city-specific colours to create an artwork about their city with. These were produced as A2 2-colour screen prints and then catalogued in an A5 publication. Volcom was super cool and came on board with us to make it all happen as it was a pretty daunting project to undertake by ourselves.

The art is very graphic based what was the concept behind that?

Because we wanted to create screen prints with the works, they had to be quite graphic to translate well in the medium. I guess it could also boil down to group of artists too.

Do you not feel it is somewhat restricting to give colour palettes and briefs?

No, like I said earlier there was a concept behind the colour choices – they were like gang colours. Also colour palettes kind of force people into a new territory. I know personally, this was the first project I’ve used colour on in over a year now.

There is a wide array of artists that are participating in this project, what are some of the challenges that you guys have had to deal with logistically?

Well, we all work full time so the hours and hours (AND HOURS!) spent emailing artists, venues and print companies really took its toll. It’s been a total mission, ha! The biggest challenge was to find artists and launch venues out of Durban.

There is a growing niche market for this kind of art, what do you think needs to be done in order to make this venture more sustainable in the future?

It needs to keep growing at this pace for a little longer, I think. The only way that things are going to improve quickly is if people actually start doing this full-time, which in turn needs buyers to buy into projects to fund the artists. We’re getting there – it’s tough out there.

I know it’s gonna sound like I am bitching but Durban has a very bad rep for people who don’t want to support art, what has the reception been like in the city compared to other places?

It’s true in some aspects but bullshit in others. At the Durban launch we sold more than 50 pieces of artwork and about 200 people attended the event. Jozi was a rad vibe but didn’t come close to Durban in terms of sales. We’re hitting Cape Town at the end of the month but I think that’ll be a MAD show. We’re trying to put on a real party so that our brethren down south can see that we’re making every effort to take shit to the next level up here.

Are you planning to push this initiative wider that just the three cities?

It just involved those three cities, so no I don’t think so. We’re planning to try send some shit overseas so people can see what’s happening in South Africa but I think that after Cape Town, that will be the end of this particular project.

How did you actually go about selecting the artists that would participate in this series?

We tried to choose a range of people who were making waves in their own right. Obviously we tried to choose a wide range of styles to keep the show interesting. We’re extremely proud of all the artists that took part and it wouldn’t have been as successful if it weren’t for them!

Is the art that will be showcased in all three cities the same or are the different things for different places?

Obviously depending on the venue depends on things are being setup but it’s all pretty stock standard. Cape Town however will be a one night whirlwind. We want to go in there, throw a party, sell a hell of a lot of artwork and then leave. Upstairs in Durban will be showing for a month and Wolves Cafe in JHB is up for 5 weeks.

What are some of the other future plans and initiatives you are working on?

At the gallery that WorkingClass run, we plan to have a show every month. Next month we’ll be hosting ‘Oh Sheet!’ and affordable arts group show where everyone creates their artworks on A4 cartridge paper. We’ve got a few tricks up our sleeve for the rest of the year though, for sure!


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