Art Talk with UK Curator Melissa Hinkin

“I am for all art that challenges and confronts societal norms; art that questions and instigates experimentation and supports creative rebellion.”-Hinkin


Thapong Visual Arts Centre in partnership with British Council Botswana hosted UK based Curator Melissa Hinkin for an art talk with local artists last week at Thapong in Gaborone. Hinkin is in Botswana to mentor Botswana curators and artists as one of the judges for a historic creative arts project dubbed ‘Echoes of (Un) Silenced Voices’ (#EchoesUV) . The project offers to address some of the challenges that local artists face.

“It’s exciting to see so many diverse practices and what people choose to focus on in the arts here. What they produce is completely different from the themes we do back at home. Botswana has an emerging arts scene and it’s great to understand the different aesthetics people choose to conceptualize in their work. We just have to develop more support but I was really impressed by the applications, even though we need to tighten up here and there,” Hinkin said.

Hinkin studied Fine Art Sculpture at Wimbledon College of Art and is currently an Exhibitions Officer at Artes Mundi. Having worked on Artes Mundi exhibitions as well as on several freelance projects, her curatorial interests gravitate towards artists that embrace socially-engaging, site-responsive and performance-based practices within contemporary visual arts. Her interests lie specifically in feminist critique of science and technology.

Over the last seven years she has supported exhibitions with artists including Tania Bruguera, Omer Fast, Sanja Iveković and John Akomfrah.

“Creativity has always been woven into my life from early childhood. Art was my escape; but it also helped me express myself and developed my voice. I am for all art that challenges and confronts societal norms; art that questions and instigates experimentation and supports creative rebellion,” she said when narrating her curatorial journey.

Even though the local contemporary art scene is a tough space for artists to crack, Hinkin assured that perseverance and producing unique art pieces was key. She further advised that artists should be interested in the arts, build relationships of trust with their audiences, making them understand art and producing pieces that spark conversations on emerging issues, which will ultimately lead to social changes.

“If you want to be an artist you have to know who your peers are because they can give you opportunities if they can see that you are keen. Be aware of all the structures around and how they work, that builds knowledge. As much as you want people to invest in you, you should also invest in them. The most important thing for an artists is to keep making more works,” she concluded.