Creativate Digital Arts Festival

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Monday, 10th June 2019

Creativate Digital Arts Festival: Something for the insanely curious

Creativate is landing in Makhanda this June/July with a vast menu of innovation, creativity and inspiration on offer

The second Creativate Digital Arts Festival, supported by Standard Bank, runs across all 11 days of the National Arts Festival in Makhanda (27 June to 7 July) and offers a vast and exciting menu of innovation, creativity and inspiration.

“This festival is not just for artists. It’s not just for geeks. It’s for the insanely curious…those who want a glimpse into the future of creativity and who want to know more about the brave new world we’re entering, and how technology is giving artists more ways to tell their stories,” says Festival CEO Tony Lankester, who has co-curated the programme along with Toby Shapshak and Lauren Fletcher.

This year, Creativate moves to the Monument (Thomas Pringle Hall), where pride of place will be held by the Creativate exhibition. Here, daring South African and international artists will exploit the spaces where creativity and technology meet, inviting visitors to experience the present through new eyes, explore the possibilities of our future, and encounter the past in ways yet to be imagined.

“Standard Bank has enjoyed being at the heart of supporting creativity, no matter the medium. We consider art to be one of the most beautiful outlets and to watch it evolve is absolutely mesmerising. We look forward to seeing what the Creativate Digital Arts Festival has in store for us this year”, says Standard Bank’s Head of Group Sponsorships Desiree Pooe

Leading thinkers in innovation, music, social media and creativity will be giving talks and visitors will also be able to learn new skills in Creativate’s hands-on workshops, which will cover a range of topics including interactive arts, social media, digital soundscapes, augmented reality, Arduino programming and so much more.

Co-curator Lauren Fletcher selects five highlights from the fascinating line-up:

(NOTE: The full listing is available here)

HERE, is a virtual reality experience premiering at Creativate, produced by Electric South and directed by the phenomenal Shelley Barry, an artist working as an experimental documentary filmmaker and disability rights activist. Barry was born and raised in the Eastern Cape and we are excited to be showing HERE first, in her home province. Within the virtual space of HERE, Johannesburg artists with disabilities reimagine their city as an inclusive stage for a fantastic happening.

THE INVISIBLE EXHIBITION is a collection of augmented reality artworks created and curated by top South African artists. A partnership between TMRW (The Mixed Reality Workshop) Gallery and Season 5 of the renowned Centre for the Less Good Idea, has led to this experimental collection of “invisible” artworks. I cannot wait to see what artists such as Lady Skollie, Blessing Ngobeni and William Kentridge, to name a few, create when they play and experiment with new and exciting technologies.

Jenna Burchell is an award winning South African artist who exhibited her amazing sound installation HOMING at the National Arts Festival in 2014. We are excited to invite her back to speak about her latest project SONGSMITH & THE LIVING WILL OF TECHNOLOGICAL ARTWORKS. Burchell’s interactive sculptures have a technological magic and magnetism to them which, in her own words, explore “the nonsensical, yet beautiful, depth in technology when it is used with art; especially when it appears to act according to its own will”.

CREATENEERING is a fun and playful workshop hosted by Dr Michaella Janse van Vuuren. Participants will learn how to add sound effects to drawings, stories and poetry. Learning about sensors, conductivity and capacitive touch, participants will create monsters that groan, cats that meow, and poetry that speaks out loud. This is the epitome of learning about technology through creativity. As an engineer, artist and designer, Van Vuuren has been at the forefront of 3D printing in South Africa. She will also be giving a talk, THE ART OF ENGINEERING, showcasing a few of her 3D printed artworks, THE ART OF PLAY.

For those who love a good beat – the Slaves to the Rhythm duo Barry van Zyl and Josh Hawkes will be hosting two workshops: ANALOG TO DIGITAL  – A CREATIVE JOURNEY FROM OWNERSHIP TO ACCESS; and CONTENT CREATION: THE NEW GLOBAL PATH FOR CREATIVES. The enthusiasm and love for music from these two globally experienced musicians is infectious. They will take participants on a journey of live-performance and interactive-experience, and elements of the content generated at the workshop will form part of the late-night Creativate Afterparty, hosted and performed by Barry, Josh and DJ Stat3gy at 23h30, Friday 5 July at the Monument Sundowner Stage. 

Out-of-the-ordinary theatre productions complete the 2019 Creativate programme. Audiences can look forward to:

FROGMAN, an immersive, technically innovative coming-of-age thriller from UK-based theatre company curious directive that integrates live action and virtual reality.

The multi-award-winning team of Jemma Kahn and Jaco Bouwer bring CELLIST WITH RABIES, pushing the boundaries of kamishibai, a fascinating form of Japanese street theatre, to tell “a story of disease, failure and breakfast”.

ERSATZ, French director and performer Julian Mellon’s “freely fantasised projection of a future man. In this non-verbal piece, Mellano manipulates concrete objects to explore virtual reality with the audience in a comical and mysterious treasure hunt.

Sweden’s Sirqus Alon’s award-winning I AM SOMEBODY is a lyrical, sharp-edged, apocalyptic music-theatre piece – “a unique high-tech musical innovation for the internet generation (and everyone else)”.

Visit the Creativate Programme

All Creativate exhibitions, talks and workshops are free, but space is limited for the talks and workshops so tickets should be reserved in advance at

The 2019 National Arts Festival programmes can be viewed as PDFs here 

The full Festival programme is available via for R75 plus delivery

The National Arts Festival is on from 27 June - 7 July 2019

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