“If you want to achieve any goal, any desire, anything worth achieving, self-discipline is the skill you should build. It gives you the power to achieve anything you set your mind to achieving”.
Tumelo Mokopakgosi’s testimony could not have been any different from this saying, he is one that has given his time, energy, resources and in fact himself to a cause he thought was worth it. Tumelo chose a path many fear to tread, quite challenging I agree but so is every act of bravery, for only the brave explore the extraordinary.
Tumelo Joy Mokopakgosi, is a visual artist and an art educator at the Funda Centre, who was born and raised in Diepkloof, Soweto. This highly talented artist captures the beauty of the world using solar power and a magnifying glass, and creates intricate patterns that most artists will not have the patience and optimism to venture into.
The process includes sitting in direct heat with a piece of wood and a magnifying glass. He sits in the sun for four hours or more and directs the glass to the already prepared wood, and then it starts burning. Guided by the sun rays, he moves it around until it starts to create sort of an image. This unbelievable natural media is created using nothing but the power of the sun’s rays, a magnifying glass and the skill of an artist, like Tumelo. Sometimes this process takes months to finish one piece as the winter season is preferred, due to the availability of sunshine.
This solar artwork combines art, architecture, design and science through an artistic vision. Tumelo is able to burn the most sophisticated patterns and portraits into wood. Apart from the aesthetics of solar art there is something fascinating about capturing this unpredictable source of energy. Now who would have thought that sitting in the sun for hours could be this interesting and even extremely rewarding? But this discovery did not come easy for this brave artist; it came as a result of an endless, consistent pursuit and experimentation. An act of discipline I must say, which eventually paid off. According to Tumelo, “I am always looking to grow as an artist, when you want to develop in this industry you do a lot of experiments.” He pioneered his solar art technique to create a body of work that is sophisticated, outstanding and technically unconventional in a bid to show his creativity. He says “You are always searching for something that will push you to expand your knowledge.”
Currently his works have become quite a stir, gathering patrons in Africa and beyond. For me, art just got amazingly interesting. Though Tumelo has become a solar art guru, he still loves painting and sculpture works. The truth is, this great man enjoys what he does and to him it does not matter if he has to sit in the sun all his life, which brings me to the question I would like to wrap up with, do you love what you do? If you do, you are fortunate and if you don’t then take my little advice; find something you can stand even in the rain and yet enjoy doing, for truly your enthusiasm determines your productivity.