Motel7 better known to me as Toyah is talent incarnate. We met 3 years ago in Cape Town, subsequently because she read one of my blogs where I was ignorantly bitching and whining about the lack of fashion sense in the Mother City and she jokingly reprimanded me and offered to take me to a new club where all the then ‘cool kids’ collected. I hadn’t lived in South Africa for 6 years so in fact this magnificent 19 year old kid was reintroducing me to my home, and she didn’t even know it. We’ve been tight ever since. I haven’t seen her for the last two years but there has been no losing touch. Especially as she is now one of the freshest, abundantly talented and coolest fucking graffiti and fine artist that has left Africa. Rarely do you find such a humble soul underneath all this madness. Motel is young, beautiful and obviously gifted but along comes with it is a perseverance and maturity that makes her work just that much more intriguing.
I am honoured and fucking STOKED that she has taken time out between painting and preparing for a new exhibition to design my new banner for Obnoxious Owl.
OK, enough kissing her ass and let’s ask this broad some questions…..
Q: SO TELL US WHERE YOU ARE CURRENTLY RESIDING AND WHY?
Q: SO HOW DOES THE ‘SCENE’ DIFFER IN NORWAY COMPARED TO HOME?
A: The graffiti scene here in Norway is different for many reasons: Firstly, Oslo has a much older, developed understanding of graffiti. South Africa is still very divided and people struggle to get out of their bubble. Here in Oslo I can paint any style I want, and I don’t get hate for it. In South Africa every piece someone does gets scrutinized on the web. I don’t think they are painting enough that might be the problem….
Q: DO YOU FIND IT MORE DIFFICULT TO GET THE KIND OF RESPECT GUYS DO IN THE GRAFFITI WORLD?
A: In many ways, it doesn’t matter how good a girl gets, she will still be the token female writer. Of course there is a different type of respect. I was recently in New York, and I was finishing a piece when some guy came up to me dressed like 50 cent and said ‘Hey you’re pretty brave to be painting graffiti’ ‘ ‘Err what do you mean?’ ‘Well you’re a girl!’ I was like, ‘OK! Girls can paint too!’ – its not like putting on make up, or dressing in sexy clothes…you have to be ready to roll with the guys, walk through shitty areas, sweat in the sun, carry heavy paint, run when needed…..and don’t complain about being a girl!
Q: YOU’VE HAD SUCCESS WITH YOUR FINE ART EXHIBITIONS OF LATE…WHEN YOU GET AN IDEA DO YOU AUTOMATICALLY JUST KNOW WHETHER IT’S GOING TO BE BETTER ON A WALL OR ON A CANVAS?
A: Canvasses are more difficult for me, as I am still learning, but if i am painting on a wall, its easy. I have that freedom to do whatever i want, so there is no procrastination. I struggle with canvasses a lot, and always dread the next one. Its like my fear of eating apples… as soon as I start eating one its fine, but to take the first bite is hard. Wine helps.
Q: I HAVE OFTEN THOUGHT THAT COMING FROM A PLACE LIKE SOUTH AFRICA IT WOULD STIR A LOT MORE VISION AND INSPIRATION THAN SAY SOMWHERE WITH LESS COLOURFUL HISTORY AND POLITICS – HOW MUCH HAS WHERE YOU COME FROM INFLUENCED YOU?
A: Norway has a very rich interesting history, with many traditions. I recently researched a lot of the history for my upcoming show here in Oslo. In a way, I am more interested by what was going on HERE 600 years ago, what they ate for breakfast, how the slept, what they did. I find all this fascinating. Of course South Africa automatically influences my work in some way, but I don’t feel the same connection that I feel here. I think eventually I would like to find a nice medium between the two. Politics has never been a huge comment in my work, and I think I can admit my work is more about aesthetics than a political message.
Q: WHAT ARE YOUR FAVOURITE COLOURS?
A: Well I am always drawn to pink and light blue! But right now I am really into purple. Everything has to be purple, even my knickers!
Q: THERE SEEMS TO BE ALOT OF HYPE AROUND STREET ART AND SUCH, WITH IT FINDING ITSELF ON COMMERCIAL CLOTHING AND EVERYONE’S MYSPACE PAGES, WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS?
A: There is tasteful hype, and distasteful hype, and I think we will find most of it is the latter. We are living in a distasteful era of bad choices and tacky ideas. Graffiti unfortunately has been victim to this. People have a bad understanding of graffiti, and in a way, I hope it will stay like this (in particular, advertising agencies) it gives us more room to do our own thing. Then we are looking at the other side of it, which is the graffiti art/street art/commercial connection that some artists are making – such as 123klan, fafi, miss van etc They are making extremely successful careers from graffiti/street art, and doing a mighty fine job at it!
Q: DO YOU GET INTO THE ‘ZONE’ BEFORE YOU START CREATING?
A: Yes. And if you ask me a question while I am painting a wall, i will sucker punch you! (Most asked questions -‘What are you painting?’, or ‘What does it say’. Nothing quite grinds my gears than these questions!)
Q: WHAT IS YOUR MOST FAVOURITE THING TO DO, EAT AND LISTEN TO?
A: Favourite thing to do is drink heavily, paint a wall, or eat junk food whilst watching stand up comedy. To eat…well I am a bit of a food addict, so every day is my favourite thing to eat! Strangely I love French food, they manage to throw romance even into their food! And of course Japanese food – but this goes far beyond just the food. I spent 2 days in Chinatown whilst in New York and bubble tea is the business! Right now I am listening to a lot of swing and country music. But i will have days where I will just play municipal waste and sneer at people a lot with a bottle of red wine in my hand. Music should change daily…. depending on your current mood. Today it is a AC/DC, Black Sabbath and Motorhead kind of day.
Q: WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE OBNOXIOUS OWL?
A: Well where do I begin? An incredibly talented clever woman with a great attitude! Watch out boys… this girl is one helluva sexy thing with enough quip to keep you on your toes! Keep them coming!!!
http://www.motelseven.com/ – check it
OWL LOVES MOTEL