Calling all hearts and intuitions!
As the Bhoomie of intuition I know all too well how important the music is that spills from your heart and what beautiful things can grow from it if you listen. I believe your inner music flows from your intuition straight into your heart, to tell you when there’s something on your path that you should investigate, clean up or follow.
If you ignore it, you could end up in a tangle on the wrong path – you know, the type of tangle in life that makes your stomach feel all knotted. But if you listen to it, you could find a way to things that you never imagined, things that can change the lives of those around you and sometimes even the life of someone far away. Here’s a Bhoomie friend who did just that, listened and then changed lives:
Nicolé Maurel’s roots lie in a small town in South Africa where she grew up during the last years of Apartheid. Her path changed in 2010 when she listened to her inner music and went to Aberdeen (the South African one) to teach ceramic art to a group of students from the surrounding impoverished townships. It was her goal to pass on skills that they could use to create and sell art, and so become self-reliant. In 2011 she won The Emma Smith Art Scholarship that was used towards funding a beautiful exhibition of her students’ work in a South African national art gallery. My good friend Zellie was lucky enough to have a chat with her. Here’s why Nicolé listened to her heart and how it changed lives:
Zellie: What inspired you to go on your first trip to Aberdeen and teach at the workshop in 2010?
Nicolé: DUT (Durban University of Technology) closed for four months in 2010 to do renovations, I decided to work during this time. Sharing my skills with fellow human beings has always been my main goal in life.
Zellie: How did you find out about the Emma Smith Award, what was the process involved in applying for it?
Nicolé: The Emma Smith Art Scholarship has been going on at DUT every year for many years. It’s always been a dream to enter this competition, but you have to get chosen to represent your department. The whole faculty of art and design enters this competition with only two students and sometimes one student from each department. So, just to be a nominee and being able to participate is already a great achievement.
I had to write a letter of intent (what would I do with the money if I win), artist statement, artist CV, artist biography, and I had to write about my work. When nominated, we had to set up an exhibition of our work and had an interview with about 12 judges. I never thought I could win against graphic design, fashion design and jewellery design etc. But what a surprise it was, Fine Arts, Nicolé Maurel won. This was an amazing achievement, wow. So proud of myself.
Zellie: Were you scared to apply for it and if so, how did you overcome your fear to take the first step towards this amazing outcome?
Nicolé: No, I’m not scared of anything. I believe in taking chances and always going for it. If I don’t succeed I try again or try something else. ‘n Boer maak ‘n plan. [A Boer makes a plan – an old Afrikaner saying when faced with adversity]
Zellie: Did you pre-plan taking your family with you when you entered the Award or was it something you discussed once you had won? How was it to have them there with you?
Nicolé: Yes, everything was planned and proposed. It was an amazing experience and great honour to show my baby to the people of Aberdeen, my baby is my pride and joy. It was the first time they saw her. I wanted to take her with me, because I wouldn’t be able to survive a day without her. My husband supported me and helped taking care of baby while I was working and we all really enjoyed Aberdeen and Graaff Reinet.
Zellie: Have you learned anything about yourself that you didn’t know before you started this project?
Nicolé: I always knew it would be joyful to share my skills as an artist, but this project showed me the joy it brings to the people you share it with.
Zellie: Do you feel that collaboration of this kind with impoverished communities, where you transfer sustainable skills that can be transformed into work, is the way to beat poverty in the world?
Nicolé: Of course, yes, totally.
Zellie: How did the community in Aberdeen respond to your arrival and your coaching?
Nicolé: Aw, they were warm, open, friendly and so hungry to learn. What meant the most to me was that they truly appreciated and loved me as an individual. They listened and trusted what I taught them.
Zellie: If you could sum the Emma Smith Project up in one word, what would it be?
Zellie: Are you planning further work with the sculptors you taught in Aberdeen?
Nicolé: Yes, I would like for the project to continue. I’m planning to make it a lifelong project. I am organising a solo show for Charlene Matiwane at the DUT Art Gallery in January next year and then I would like to have another show for the workshop in Scotland, titled Aberdeen to Aberdeen in 2016. I would also like to teach people in Aberdeen how to work from their homes and how to fire ceramics from home. It will be so much cheaper this way and give more people the opportunity to learn.
I’m hoping that Aberdeen can become a small artists town where all humans from all over the world can go visit and support this community. Where visitors can walk the streets and every little Mandela house in this town will be like the family’s own small personal gallery where they can exhibit their work to the world. And with time I will obviously come up with more and more ideas, because I never run out of new ideas.
Zellie: What would you say to someone who may feel too scared of taking those first steps in starting a sustainability project in their community?
Nicolé: Just do it. Follow your heart. You can never ever make a mistake by helping others. Plan it wisely. The only thing you will receive in return is love. There is always hope.
So inner-music lovers, if you’ve ever felt like something is whispering for you to ‘start that painting’ or ‘travel a new path’, then in the words of a true inspirational: “Follow your heart.” You can enjoy more of Nicolé’s journey here, thanks to Tyler Dolan :
Wishing you a music-in-your-ear-ringing day!
PS. Read how Bhoomie All-Ears became Bhoomieland’s secret way-finder here.