South African-based artist Hakopike was born and raised in Johannesburg as Amy-Leigh Braaf has been working as a painter, illustrator, and photographer for the last 8 years. Hakopike specialises in acrylic paintings and digital pieces exploring her mixed heritage while travelling through Indoneisa, Japan and South Africa.
Being a South African woman she was labelled from the moment she was born and started exploring oral stories and ancestry in her family from a young age. This was the catalyst that caused her to question the validity of documenting history through story-telling primarily. Celestial Deities became a channel of exploration and self-discovery of “Those who came before” and who have passed on to the other side but have gifted her with a long line of heritage. After being told that her great-grandmother had Indonesian and Japanese heritage, she decided to focus on what being racially ambiguous in South Africa meant. Her other heritage includes “Cape Malay” so she wanted to showcase the mixed culture of coloured people in South Africa who formulated their local dishes, and ways of coping mentally with the traumatic years that were caused during and after the Apartheid.
She started this series to depict these characters combining her knowledge of who they might have been and what their descendants are like now. Through symbolism, story-telling, and vibrant colours – this art series is aimed to bring light to those who didn’t have voices but are rich with stories that have never been told.