Shani Judes

​The Doodler:
Shani Judes  

Words: Roger Young
Photography: Sydelle Willow Smith

Cape Town as World Design Capital 2014 has focused attention on designers of all stripes. But not all design is flashy, or even visible. The Red Bulletin meets six Mother City brains who are re-imagining how the city sees itself.

Tension breeds creativity, and Cape Town does not lack for tension with the most expensive real estate in Africa squeezed between picturesque mountains and pristine beaches, a vibrant emerging pan-African community, a dominant creole-Malay Muslim culture, hipster creative industries, and low-income ghettoes that encircle the city, themselves a poisonous legacy of political spatial design. When Cape Town was named World Design Capital 2014, the function of design itself was thrown into question. But many of the contradictions highlighted by the award were already being focused on by Cape Town’s brightest re-thinkers: designers who see contradictions as an opportunity for re-imagination, a chance for the city to create a new way of experiencing the world. 

The Red Bulletin meets six Mother City brains who are re-imagining how the city sees itself.

Next up: The doodler Shani Judes  

Shani Judes wants to bring art to the public; she wants to get it out of the galleries and into shared spaces; and she wants to wrestle it from the fingers of the high art practitioners and put it back in the hands of everyone: street artists, accountants, baristas, gaartjies, children, adults, and you. 

“When I see someone come across a public artwork and engage with it, see it challenge their thoughts even for a moment, that’s when I see the importance of public art.”

 Judes’ most well known project is probably Night Of A Thousand Drawings, which this year culminated in an exhibition of approximately 8 000 individual doodles shown at Cape Town’s cavernous Good Hope Centre. The concept is simple: Judes and her team believe that anyone can draw or doodle, and that people don’t draw because they have been told that they are unable or untalented.

“At some point we get told that we’re not good enough and stop creating,” says Judes. “Doodle sessions are very inclusive – you don’t have to have mad skills to participate.” 

Through a series of smaller events over the course of a year, doodles are gathered and then sold at the main event. Proceeds go toward charities or organisations – this year it was Thomas Wildschutt Primary School in Retreat, Cape Town that benefited. 

“It’s important to teach our youth that their time can make a difference,” Judes explains. “You don’t need money to help others. Draw a quick drawing and you might help a school get a new tree. These are important lessons for all citizens to know.”

Beyond the project’s upliftment aspect, as well as its partnering with the Red Bull Doodle Art Global Gallery, for Judes it’s all about “getting people to realise that they can create even when they have told themselves for so many years they can’t.” 

Judes is also involved in the art54 public art project, which has successfully lobbied the ward councillors of the upmarket Sea Point suburb to introduce public art into its seaside parks and promenades.

“Its intention is to bring art into the public domain and to allow people to view art outside of a white walled gallery. It is intended to create a process that makes it easier for all involved, especially the artists. If there is a body that works with the city, as opposed to each artist trying to do it on their own, it really helps everyone involved.”

Judes hope is that the success of art54’s work will inspire other parts of Cape Town to adopt the model. She is also working on having Cape Town’s notorious graffiti laws amended. Says Judes: “All the projects I work on involve public participation and involve working with artists.”

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12 2014 The Red Bulletin

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