About the Residency
Silence Awareness Existence is a four-week residency at the Arteles Creative Centre in Hameenkyro, Finland. The programme brings together international artists and professionals all working around the themes of silence, awareness and existence. These artists and thinkers could use a range of approaches: artistic, scientific, meditative and existentialist approaches. Taking place in the heart of the Finnish winter, the programme allows for concentrated deep work on a particular project. Special features of the programme such as silent (no speaking) days, and offline days (no internet) allow for an even deeper focus and attention.
Toni will be working on a new poetry collection, called Somnambulism. In it, she is exploring and questioning her identity as a South African womxn of mixed ancestry. She is writing about the silences she has inherited around her ancestry, and exploring where she and her family come from. This work is about asking herself the hard questions of who she is, so that she can decide for herself who she might become.
Toni is a poet and a spoken word educator . She is doing this creative work with the aim of going back to her own community in Athlone, Cape Town, to work with other young people of mixed ancestry. She will be setting up a schools poetry project that teaches young people to use poetry as a tool to tell their own histories. In doing so, they will explore and shape their identities on their own terms.
About Toni Stuart
Toni Stuart has been writing and performing poetry for over 14 years. Some of her achievements are:
- in 2010 she co-founded I Am Somebody! - a non-profit that supported young adults to overcome systemic socio-economic and personal challenges, and step into adulthood with clear skills and vision. It used storytelling and nature-based processes to do this 18-month rites of passage progamme. In 2013 she was named in the Mail & Guardian's list of 200 Young South Africans for her work with I Am Somebody!
- supporting poets (such as Linda Kaoma, Koleka Putuma, Mbongeni Nomkonwana) in the early stages of their careers, who have since become established artists, project managers and start successful poetry organisations
- she was the founding curator of Poetica, at Open Book Festival. This was a voluntary role, which she did for two years, that has led to a dedicated diverse and inclusive poetry programme at Cape Town's largest literature festival.
- in the past year, she has been doing important work around diversity and transformation in South African schools, with the teachers and students.
Why you should support Toni's work
South African artists have to be as creative in making money and finding funding as they are in creating their work. The majority of Toni’s work is self-funded or funded through international grants and commissions. However, in our current climate arts budgets are being cut internationally. More specifically in South Africa, the high unemployment rate, increasing inequality and the urgent need for basic services to communities most in need, means that the government funding for the arts is minimal. As her friends and colleagues, we believe that if we want artists who are going to help us gain a deeper understanding of ourselves as people, we have to support them. We believe that Toni’s work is necessary right now - not just in South Africa, but also globally. Because of this, we are asking you to support her work.
We need to raise £2800 by December 31st, 2017. This will cover:
- the remainder of her residency fees (she has been awarded a 50% scholarship by Arteles)
- a return flight to Finland
- the Schengen Visa
- living expenses for the duration of her month in Finland
This support will ensure she can focus on completing a draft of the manuscript for her poetry collection without any financial stress. Completing this draft will put her one step closer to publishing her first collection, and, starting her schools poetry project in Cape Town in the second half of 2018.
Help us support Toni take this vital step for herself, and her community!
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- Annabel Gerbi
- Flora Schanda
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