Tapiwa Mlinga is making a living out of her passion as a visual artist. Without any formal training, she is making strides in the industry.
Through her creations, the 26-year-old has attended big events and exhibited her work at Art In The Park, Run For Reforestration and GIZ Art Diversity, among and worked with art establishments such as Nyali Studios where some of her creations are displayed.
“I sell a lot of pieces that are sustaining my life as a full-time artist. It is a self-taught venture. I have never undergone any professional training,” she told On The Arts.
Through the Sula Professional Development Training programme, Mlinga alongside 62 other creatives received a week-long training course.
Practitioners from the fields of painting and drawing, ceramics, sound engineering, stage lighting, music production, cinematography and writers were brought together for the training which was conducted by the department of Fine and Performing Arts at the University of Malawi (Unima) in partnership with Unesco under the Sula project.
The Sula project aims at strengthening the creative industry in Malawi and it is part of the Sound Connects Fund which is implemented by the Music in Africa Foundation.
At the end of the five-day training, the creatives conducted a colourful exhibition of some of the works they had made.
On display were paintings that drew different meanings and stories as well as a live music performance of songs produced and recorded during the course.
According to Mlinga, the participants said the training exposed them to different techniques and styles they can employ to add value to their work.
She said: “The fact that it was a mixture of different creatives in one space opened up a connection and relevance on how we can work together.
“The content in the syllabus has given us a broader knowledge and expertise on how we can do things differently as artists. It has given us a different view of how we can market our work so that we earn more from our talent.”
Mlinga further said she believes the training will open up opportunities for them and wishes that more artists are exposed to such training.
Unima School of Arts acting dean Professor Mufunanji Magalasi said they will engage with the creative industry regularly.
“There is a change in the landscape of our community outreach and we need a new approach. We consider the training as an important activity as stated in our strategic plan. We need to come up with mutual benefits of training and learning. This training is one example of a training that is responsive to the needs of the communities,” he said.
Magalasi challenged the artists to market themselves aggressively and take advantage of digitalisation to earn more from their talent.
He said: “An artist cannot die poor. You are lucky you were born in the period of digitisation. Wherever you are, make money.”
Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Wildlife deputy director of arts MacDonald Maluwaya said they are proud of the steps that Unima is taking in elevating the creative industry in Malawi.
He said: “This training is unique as it has mobilised artists who have never received any formal training in the arts. As government we are looking at the creative industry as one sector with potential to contribute to the economic development of the country.”
This was the second cohort of the Suya Training Project. The participants were awarded certificates of completion.