We speak to Íria Marina a Maputo based photographer, filmmaker & Designer and Co-Founder of natural hair and body products company Ancestori Living. She recently participated in the #CreativeHustles event on filmmaking in Maputo alongside Maputo based producer Peter Gudo and UK based filmmaker Shola Amoo in partnership with British Council.
CN: What's been your creative journey like?
Íria Marina: I never saw myself as a creative, I guess when you are born with that gift, it is normal to you. So I grew up playing a lot of music, the piano, flute, guitar and even sang, but I thought that was normal, including being into art. I used to draw a lot but yet I thought I wanted to be a doctor as that is what people chose to be, even though I hated science. So when I went into architecture, I realized it wasn't what I wanted to do, but I did it anyway, so I could make my parents proud. I realized I had to be selfish and do what I needed to do. This took 10 years and within a year I managed to achieve my dreams and do everything I set out to do and more. Now you see why it was difficult to answer this one?!?!?!
CN: These conversations are always hard, after architecture school what happened?
Íria Marina: Well I went on to work in an architecture firm for a year, then I went to Cape Town School of photography for a year as I had a deal with my parents (I gave them the architecture degree so now I could choose to fulfill my own dream).
CN: They accepted that they owed you?
Íria Marina: Yeah, they had no choice. We made a deal. I then went on to try open a business as a photographer and failed, so I resorted back to my career in Architecture.
CN: What made you fail?
Íria Marina: Lack of support and knowledge but then I had to follow my calling; being an artist.
CN: Hmmm so now you had to go back to the freelance world?
Íria Marina: Well not really..... Interesting story, so I came home to a family business that tanked. So I thought of new ways to make money, I realized people like things, so I turned to my skills: photography, design, and natural hair products.
CN: So u tuned into your true calling and how has that been?
Íria Marina: It has been overwhelming, I feel like my purpose in life is being fulfilled. I used to tell my parents that I haven't found my calling and why the ancestors gave me this challenge and now I feel like I have. My calling is not to tell stories, it is to tell stories my way and help other people to elevate but with such a feeling comes responsibility. I do not take my gift lightly there are very few people that can do what I do; that is scary, challenging, exciting but I am also thankful.
CN: How do you balance photography, film, design?
Íria Marina: LOL do I? I just do. I am meticulous in planning, I am never late and I deliver, I do not sleep unless it is all complete. Well unless client is happy, that is what I am known for; delivering quality, and on time so people trust me and pay. Well my mother is an accountant and my father a lawyer. I grew up in a boarding school, time, quality and excellent results were my motto growing up. Easy to follow if it is part of who you are. That's where I differ being a natural born creative for a family and system that wasn't, results in a product like me.
CN: Let's talk about your 90's project, How did that come about?
Íria Marina: Well being back in Mozambique, I was curious about my family actually. They are now so disconnected; it is a weird concept from how I grew up. I wanted to send them a message. I wanted them to realise what they had lost. So I was curious to find out what happened to the connection, the consequences. So I created a way to reminisce. Not sure it worked, but at least I tried.
CN: Connection points amaze me. How has the work been received?
Íria Marina: Incredible, I did it for myself, but yet it is bigger than me. It is a process I cannot describe. I didn’t set out for this to happen, all I wanted was self fulfilment, but it isn't just about me. Even having a conversation with a client, it is not just business, it is guidance, teaching, learning, give and take, a lifestyle.
CN: Isn't it strange how we create for ourselves and the world receives and now we have to let go?
Íria Marina: Indeed, pressure but I have decided, that my story is the key. It is the connection.
CN: Very important! Whats the creative community like in your city?
Íria Marina: It is a process, it is undervalued, doubtful and growing but no belief yet lack there of knowledge, it will take time for them to believe in us but it is getting there.
CN: You participated in the panel on for #CreativeHustles - A Moving Image alongside Peter Gudo and Shola Amoo that we did in partnership wtih British Council Mozambique, what were some of the key insights from there in terms of the state of the creative community?
Íria Marina: Well I learned the lack of blogging knowledge and festival participation and much more, together with the knowledge Shola brought, we tried to instill it into the participants and of course myself.
CN: How important has collaboration in your journey?
Íria Marina: Super important, I wanted to show Mozambicans that it is possible to collaborate with artists that supported you and visa versa.
CN: Very important!
Íria Marina: It was easy. Everyone was receptive, aware, conscious and giving. A lot of Mozambicans are afraid to have work stolen, but I have faith that I am surrounded by good people.
CN: How is the creative education in the creative community around business, copyright etc.?
Íria Marina: Terrible, artist do not know how to protect themselves, the worst part is that our legal system assists no one but the most powerful so unfortunately, even if we had that fight, it would go nowhere.
CN: How has travel influenced your work?
Íria Marina: I am who I am because I traveled, and saw the world.
CN: Favorite places?
Íria Marina: The best lesson is to look at your country as an object, appreciate its beauty and observe its negativity. Like a tourist, only you must judge it harsh and try understand it in order to change it. hmmm.....To be honest... Mozambique is my heart. Ilha de Mocambique is my favourite place in the world. No place compares to its beauty. So raw in the change and damage that colonialism brought, but so much history and culture. It is a mix masala, but beautiful and super colourful. Let’s not get started with the architecture.
CN: What's your advice to your fellow young African creatives?
Íria Marina: To never give up, sounds cliché but I mean it, just because I am known now does not mean it pays the bills. It means I must fight harder so that the generation after me, doesn't go through these struggles. It is a long and hard road but worth it.
Always follow your instincts, when speaking to Shola, he said something valid, "instincts are preparation of years on knowledge, and passed down through bloodlines, so take it, accept it and use it."
CN: Who are some of the Mozambican Creatives we should know?
Íria Marina: Taila Carrilho, Ricardo Pinto Jorge, Nelsa and Nelly Guambe, Ailton Matavela (TRKZ), Mauro Brito, Dj Supaman, Dj tsunami, Marianna agness (house of Agness), Granmah, Black Khakela, Ndzuri, Nadu, Hugo Mendes, Maisa Chaves, Helio Januario Pene, Chonga, Nemesio Zuber, Maymbira, the list is seriously endless, to much talent here.
CN: What does creativity mean to you?
Íria Marina: When you are born creative and it is all you know, it is your soul, your breath, your food, you do not think of what the meaning is, it is your lifeline.
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