Amy-Leigh Braaf, known by her artist name Hakopike, is a painter, illustrator, and photographer. Over the past eight years, she has spent time blending acrylic paintings and digital pieces, walking into her mixed heritage and drawing inspiration from her travels through Indonesia, Japan, and her home country, South Africa.
Born and raised in Johannesburg, Hakopike’s journey as an artist began with a deep curiosity about her own identity. Growing up in a country where labels are often assigned from birth, she embarked on a quest to explore her family’s oral stories and ancestry. This exploration led her to question the traditional methods of documenting history primarily through storytelling.
Hakopike found solace and inspiration in the realm of celestial deities. These ethereal beings became a medium for her to explore and discover the stories of “Those who came before” – her ancestors who have passed on but have left behind a legacy. Through her art, she aims to give voice to those who were silenced, shedding light on their untold stories.
Discovering that her great-grandmother had Indonesian and Japanese heritage, Hakopike became fascinated with the concept of being racially ambiguous in South Africa. As a woman of mixed heritage, she wanted to showcase the diverse culture of coloured people in South Africa, who have created their own local dishes and developed coping mechanisms to navigate the traumatic years of Apartheid and its aftermath.