ARTIST: SASHA MUTANO
COUNTRY: SOUTH AFRICA
MATERIALS USED: PENCIL, ACRYLIC PAINT, OIL PASTELS on A1 BOND PAPER

Many countries have felt the wrath of covid19 as they have gone taken protective measures and put their societies into lockdown. South Africa, is one of the countries affected by the pandemic has also gone into lockdown and as a foreign national student in South Africa, I have felt the socially and economically damaging effects of this pandemic. Some have become financially wealthier by selling essential products which have increased in demand such as sanitizers, face masks and other related protective gear. Others, on the other hand, have become poorer as they have lost their jobs, stopped production or closed stores. My income comes from my parent’s tourism company in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe. They pay for my tuition fees, accommodation, food, transport and other essentials. Unfortunately, due to the pandemic which prohibited tourism activities, my parents have not had any income and have been unable to send me money. I could no longer afford my accommodation and had to vacate my residential premises. I am currently residing with a friend.

Art has been a hobby of mine which has always lifted my spirit through dark times in my life. Not only did I do it as a subject in high school but as a hobby to help me cope through the day. There was a time when the economic situation in Zimbabwe badly affected my family. My parents could not afford my school fees so I spent a whole year at home, in 2014, helping my mother with domestic chores. After doing my chores I would use my spare time to draw and paint. Drawing helped me to take my mind off of my family’s situation. As I did my art my mind would be focused on the painting and it would also wander off, thinking about creative ideas to put on paper. It was my happy place and saved me from depression. The best part was seeing what my mind and hands could put on paper. I managed to sell a couple of my art and used the money to buy food for the house.

I am currently studying Social work at the University of Witwatersrand and haven’t had time to draw/paint due to the demands of the course as well as practical’s. The pandemic feels like deja vu, a repeat of 2014, where I am forced to stay away from school due to situations beyond my control. Being away from campus and locked at home has given me time and energy to explore my artistic abilities. I have managed to divert my mind from diving into depressive thoughts and focused more on creative thoughts. I have never been happier. Online videos, pictures and tutorials have widened my creative palate and I have played with a mixed medium like never before. I always look forward to my next portraits as they keep getting better and better. I have also managed to attract a buyer. I found art in a hopeless place.