Untold stories of how 18 Seychellois creatives started and progressed in their respective art forms have been released in a new book.
The book “Koze Koze – Conversations between Seychellois Creatives” explores the story of artists from different art backgrounds – visual, music, dance, poetry, literature, and architecture, through dialogues between two creative people with similar art backgrounds.
“Koze Koze” – “Talk Talk” in Creole – is the brainchild of Shirley-Huizhong Yu, who is the project director at the Seychelles Art Foundation. She told SNA that the idea to write the book came through personal observation.
“Creatives and artists are a special group of people who are seen to be a little distant from the public and always busy doing their own thing. The truth is that they are just as ordinary as anyone else except for their passion to create,” said Yu.
“This book is talking about their lives rather than their creations as in other professional books, you see the professional side of the person. This creates a distance between the public and the creative as only the professional sides are exposed. This book is trying to change this mindset and bring people closer to the creative group, making the public realise that creatives struggle in keeping their passion going,” she continued.
The format of the book is a dialogue between two creatives and Yu shared that this reflects the uniqueness of Seychelles in being that most people know each other or know someone who would know of them. In the case of artists, this is amplified as the group is smaller.
The format of the book is a dialogue between two creatives. (Seychelles Art Foundation) Photo License: CC-BY
“We had them sign up as a pair and we just observed the conversation. As they already knew a little about each other, it made the story more intimate,” Yu said.
Seen as a cultural project, the book was initiated by the Seychelles Art Foundation in 2020 and due to the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, its finalisation and publication were delayed.
Launched on March 9, “Koze Koze – Conversations between Seychellois Creatives” was supported by a National Arts and Cultural Fund (NACF) grant as well as sponsors from the private sector and the community.
The chairman of the NACF, Cecile Kalebi, said at the launch of the book that “Koze Koze” was unanimously approved by the NACF committee because of the number of artists and art forms this project touches and its concept ticked all the boxes of NACF. We are very proud to see the final result and the book speaks for itself.”
On the possibility of writing another similar book, Yu said that with the idea to cover as many creatives as possible and with the format of the first book, nothing is stopping her from having new candidates join this project every five years.
“As long as the conversation between the creatives is interesting, it will be worthwhile to do that and contribute to the heritage allowing people to know about creatives,” she said.