Twenty two year old Nelson Mondlane oozes energy and passion for art and music – and helping other young people express themselves through art.
With a big smile, big voice and a big heart to match, the lead singer of Perth band Superego also works part-time at the Y’s HQ in Perth, West Australia, an all ages live music venue and youth arts, performance & enterprise. He runs HQ’s Art Gallery, while also studying drama and arts at Curtin University.
His art has cred among young people, with his work found on many formerly barren walls across Perth, with his work regularly commissioned by local councils.
The Y is committed to supporting young people to grow in mind, body and spirit. Whilst meeting foundational needs like a roof over one’s head, good nutrition and physical health and wellness are crucial, so is providing opportunities for young people to discover their passions and talents, and giving them a safe space to explore these.
Nelson wants to make art accessible to all young people, regardless of where they come from.
“Art has always been quite highbrow. People who don’t have a lot of money find it hard to get into,” explains Nelson. “There are so many young artists who don’t really get a chance unless they make a certain kind of art, but that’s not what art is about. Pure expression is so much more important than a bunch of people sitting around and saying ‘this is art’.”
Nelson and the team at HQ provide a number of opportunities for young creatives to have their voices heard. HQ Gig Space provides a space for young musicians to perform their work to local audiences, whilst HQ Gallery offers emerging and established artists a professionally outfitted exhibition space that can be hired at discounted rates, or free of charge for those under 26 years of age.
“What we’re trying to do is give people a space to express themselves as easily as possible,” says Nelson. “If you don’t give someone the opportunities and the time to give it a shot, people will never know what they want to do and what they want to do. If you’ve never been given those opportunities, how can you progress?”
It might seem like a small thing, but giving a young person a healthy outlet for their emotions can be the turning point for a young person at risk of heading down the wrong path.
Every one of Nelson’s interactions with the youth who come into HQ is just one of a million moments that positively impact the lives of young people, a million moments that give the Y reason to continue doing what they do best.