National performance and multimedia artist and visual arts honors student Luke Rudman is a recipient of Nelson Mandela University’s Abe Bailey Travel Grant and is a 2022 representative.
The annual Abe Bailey Travel Bursary runs for three weeks, starting in England and ending in Scotland. The scholarship is awarded to selected South African university students to increase understanding of different perspectives, languages and cultures – to encourage leadership and open debate, experience British culture and promote South African unity.
Luke uses performance art, photography, installation and painting to explore queerness. He does this particularly in the context of environmentalism, where queer perspectives are traditionally absent.
Luke was recently informed that his artworks have been selected as finalists in both Sasol New Signatures and Vukela, two national art competitions he has “admired from the ‘sidelines’ for years”. He also attended and presented at the 17th Arts in Society Conference in Zaragoza, Spain just a few weeks ago, his first personal engagement at an international conference.
Earlier in the year, Luke was selected to be part of the Design Indaba Emerging Creatives class of 2022. He has also been able to continue his more than three year working relationship with Greenpeace Africa and has been appointed to be part of a global board contributing to an exciting intersectional, international Greenpeace project called Alternative Futures.
“This is a newly formed initiative by Greenpeace International and I look forward to seeing its impact in the coming months,” he says.
Luke believes the scholarship selection panel saw his commitment to his practice and its potential to create positive change. In recent years he has collaborated with organizations such as Greenpeace, The Sustainable Seas Trust and the United Nations to create artworks that address the climate crisis and various intersecting themes.
“I’ve tried not to separate my passion from my practice in the studio — but to use it as a guide,” he says.
Luke hopes to meet the other 17 people from different locations in southern Africa, to have conversations about their individual contexts as well as the new experiences they will share on the tour.
“I think we’re all taking this tour together to gain an understanding of a context that’s very different from ours. I look forward to spending a month connecting with people of knowledge and passion across a variety of academic fields. I think the tour will be challenging in many ways,” says Luke.
Luke, 22, specializes in visual arts and painting and is currently concentrating on his dissertation and studio work on Campus North – in preparation for his contribution to the final exhibition later this year.
“I am very honored to have been selected as this year’s recipient of the Abe Bailey Scholarship. This opportunity may allow me to initiate conversations about the climate crisis and queer identity in spaces where they are currently absent. I would like to take this opportunity to encourage interdisciplinary networking and collaboration with the 17 other fellows I will be traveling with. I am grateful to my department for supporting me on this journey,” says Luke.
And the future? Luke would like to continue working as an artist and further develop his skills as a researcher.
“I love creating multimodal art – artworks that resist the urge to be categorized into specific mediums or genres. My approach to creating art ranges from performance-based to two-dimensional to installative and three-dimensional. This fluidity has allowed me to bring my artistic vision into a wealth of spaces that would otherwise be inaccessible to me. I just want to keep being creative.”
“My dream job would probably be to continue what I’m doing now – creating art and collaborating with organizations and individuals who inspire me every day… Maybe on a larger scale. A large part of my creative practice is in the form of performances – in galleries and public spaces alike. I would like to expand this format into fully immersive installation-meets-performance-art exhibitions.”