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Artwork by Lex Trickett

Nikky Norton Shafau // ColabNowNow Storyteller

“My vision of the future is lead by a feeling”

For Nikky Norton Shafau storytelling is about taking ownership of the past and the personal, as a way to create joy in the future.

She does not identify as an Afrofuturist but finds that certain artists, aesthetics and ideas attached to Afrofutursim resonate with her. She is part of the collective Afrofutures_UK where she has, “delivered creative workshops, blogged and an aggregated some of the event as a whole. We created a tradition where each event ends with a plenary poem that sums up all of the discoveries made, which I create and share.”

Nikky expressed that she sees all people as storytellers. For her, telling stories in nature in front of a group of people feels like the truest way to express herself. The point at which she starts to create something verbally begins with an image, so her relationship with writing has become more aural and visual.

Taking this as a point of departure for how she sees the power of language, she mentioned that she would like to transform herself into a storybook. This started as an artistic experiment in 2015 when she wrote down the statement, ‘My name is Nikky I’m a little bit strange I want to become a Storybook’. Over the past two years this statement has come to mean more than she originally thought. “It is collaborative in its evolution, and it’s personal. It has become a statement about job titles, fitting in and personal transformation. At its heart I suppose I’m exploring ownership and the imagination.”

The meaning of this statement has allowed the world to become her canvas. From discovering a ‘secret garden’ where she tells stories, to social media and blogging becoming spaces where she can present her journey visually as well as archive the stories of people in her network.

Nikky has continued to create digital footprints through her involvement in mini experiments in digital spaces. “I created a simple online portal for a theatre experience I created called ‘The Adventures Of Sky The Reluctant Hero’…There were four ‘rabbit holes’ that people could ‘fall down’ to become more immersed in the character’s world before they came to the theatre experience. This included creative challenges, QR coded, a Pinterest board, a blog and a character Facebook page. Some people were seduced into the experience with letters that I planted in different locations  – park benches, bus seats, cafes. In the end those who interacted the most were invited to a VIP night time storytelling walk.” This combination of online and offline interaction made the character feel real to those who watched the production.

Reflecting on being part of ColabNowNow, Nikky expressed that she is, “excited about starting in the unknown, the bloc party and having conversations that may breed collaboration in the future.”

The final outcomes of the residents’ individual and collective ideas that have been fermenting throughout the residency will be presented at the Fak’ugesi Bloc Party on the 16th of September.


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