Electronic art explosion for Durban

Brazilian visual artist Fred Paulino from the Gambiologia Collective, from Brazil. Picture by Nidin Sanchez.

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BY BILLY SUTER

DURBAN is readying for an explosion of  electronic art as part of the varied and colourful programme planned for ISEA2018 – the 24th International Symposium on Electronic Art, which will be an attraction in the city from tomorrow, June 23, until June 30.

The event intends to create a city-wide showcase of dozens of exhibitions, events, installations, walks, festivals and activities, and a major global conference on new media art, according to a spokesman.,

“ISEA2018 is a festival in two parts: an academic symposium at Durban’s DUT City Campus (June 25 to 27 June) comprising peer-reviewed papers, panels and keynote presentations for registered delegates travelling from around the world; and then the dozens of events on the cultural programme (June 23 to 30) and public workshops (until June 24 ).”

Partner venues are DUT City Campus; KZNSA Gallery; Durban Art Gallery; Denis Hurley Centre; Emmanuel Cathedral; BAT Centre; Bond Shed; Green Hub; Warwick Junction; Treasure Island; uShaka Marine World; K-Cap; Bulwer Park and Durban City Hall.

Most events are open to the public, are family-friendly and  free of charge, the spokesman adds.

The cultural programme opens on the afternoon of Monday, June 25, at Durban’s BAT Centre on the Victoria Embankment.  Among the projects scheduled to take over the centre are culture walks exploring the stories of the harbour, sound installations along Festival Island and surrounds; and artists from Benin in West Africa sharing the “Wakpon” app which brings art to the masses by allowing anyone with access to a smart-phone or tablet to enjoy a guided exhibition tour.

Also on offer will be a short film festival looking at the power of technology, sampling and repurposing in modern story-telling, and a number of performances and artist talks.

iPhone by the Gambiologia Collective from Brazil.

Monday also sees various exhibitions opening at Durban Art Gallery, including the Invisible Exhibition in the Circular Gallery, which comprises artworks made in virtual reality by some of South Africa’s most celebrated visual artists, viewed only through an iPad. Gallery 1 will host Change Agent – a massive collaborative media arts installation by Keith Armstrong from Australia, via Limpopo; and an exhibition featuring an interesting juxtaposition of works from the DAG permanent collection.

Also look at the gallery for Mediated, a striking statement on political power by lecturers from UKZN’s Digital Arts department; and Curiosities, featuring, among other works, a delicate interactive piece by Hyojin Jang from Korea, inspired by the leaves of the lotus flower, made with ribbons, wire and lights.

“A multi-genre, multi-media performance project runs on Tuesday in the Moth Hall in Old Fort Road: eSkIN 4 the visually impaired. Under the direction of Dr Jill Scott, the project showcases wearable technology that allows visually impaired performers and choreographers to express themselves through movement and sound and in so doing, enabling them to communicate with sighted people,” says the spokesman.

“Seven visually impaired students from the Lincoln Mason School in Umlazi will work with Durban choreographers/dancers Lorin Sookool and Thobi Maphanga to create a dance piece which explores this technology.”

Tuesday has a focus at Glenwood’s KZNSA Gallery and surrounds with the “Life Hacking gallery take over” project of fun, innovative and quirky exhibits – all with a strong social consciousness message. The public opening is at 7pm and visitors can meet some of the “Free Sunshine!” little. solar-panelled protest robots created in public workshops.

Also on show are the World After Us / Server Farms which uses discarded computer hardware as a basis for up-cycled garden installations; and some Gambiologia” projects – which is the Brazilian practise of makeshift, the art of resorting to improvisation to repair what doesn’t work or to create what you need with what you have at your disposal.

Ozma – the Lost World” is a fab, French, electronic-jazz band which will be performing at the KZNSA exhibition opening on Tuesday evening – being inspired by a grainy, old, black-and-white, silent film about dinosaurs which will be showing while the band performs. If the weather is good, the gallery takeover will spill out into adjoining Bulwer Park,” says the spokesman.

Wednesday sees ISEA2018 move to Durban’s Denis Hurley Centre with a full day’s programme. Of special interest is a talk, Africa in Space – imagining the future and considering Zambians’ involvement in the space race .Of note, too is Waiting for a Revolution – an interactive installation with a portable cardboard voting booth; and a sound installation highlighting citizens of Durban’s sonic memories.

There will be a culture walk exploring the important sites around the DHC in the inner city with activations along the way. Following on from the great successes recently of concerts in Emmanuel Cathedral, there will be building projections, video mapping and performances in honour of ISEA.

The format of ISEA changes on Thursday, June 28, and Friday, June 29  – with conference delegates having morning presentations in the Bond Shed on Point followed by breakaway groups and themed sessions.

The public component of Thursday takes visitors to uShaka Marine World from 4pm with a series of water-based and ecology-themed projects including “Slipstream”, which is an under-water sound installation inside one of the uShaka pools. Also,  there will be a beach installation involving banks of TVs, sand sculptures and video installations.

Sara Retallick, an Australian artist, working on an underwater sound installation project, Slipstream, which can be enjoyed from 4.30pm on June 28 at Durban’s uShaka Marine World.

uShaka is also the site for an interesting project – Nonument is rooted in a protest installation from Detroit, about the destruction of a public fountain which was demolished despite a public uproar. The artists created an app which explores the architecture, site and location of where the fountain used to be, pushing the boundaries of architecture, history and virtual reality.

There are two projects operating from uShaka which have a strong water-based research component, the results of which have been used as the basis for art.

Iconic, internationally-respected science journal, Leonardo, will have its 50th birthday celebrations as part of the evening’s programme.

Friday evening takes ISEA to Durban’s Station Drive for a series of events celebrating unlikely bedfellows: arts,  science, beer and spices. It will be an evening of performances, projection and installations.

The rousing, unifying closing event of the ISEA2018 / Digifest05 / IF Durban season, on Saturday night, will be Interpret Durban (ID9) at the Durban City Hall – inside and outside the whole building from 6pm.

The space will be re-imagined by a team of artists from all over the world – using the spaces in an unusual way, and displaying art in various forms throughout the building. The centrepiece will be the main hall which will become a dance-floor for the evening.

Fringe events over the festival can be found at Green Hub; K-Cap at KwaMashu; the English market and various other satellite venues.

Local ISEA2018 / Digifest05 / IF Durban partners are Durban University of Technology’s Faculty of Arts and Design, Innovate Durban, eThekwini Municipality, Durban KwaZulu-Natal Convention Bureau and The Trinity Session.

ISEA symposia are co-ordinated by ISEA International. Founded in the Netherlands in 1990, ISEA International (formerly Inter-Society for the Electronic Arts) is an international non-profit organisation fostering inter-disciplinary academic discourse and exchange among culturally diverse organisations and individuals working with art, science and technology. ISEA International headquarters is supported by the University of Brighton (UK).

BILLY SUTER reports that Durban is to experience a big art attack – as part of the programme for ISEA2018, the 24th International Symposium on Electronic Art (from June 23-30). … More Electronic art explosion for Durban

Art works by Starling and Gouws

A work by Nigel Starling titled Fisherman, on view at the Blue Caterpillar Art Gallery in Pietermaritzburg.

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BY BILLY SUTER

TWO new exhibitions, one in Durban and the other in Pietermaritzburg, are sure to attract art lovers.

Works by Nigel Starling are on show at the Blue Caterpillar Art Gallery, 37 Willowton Road, at the Butterflies for Africa building which is open every Tuesday to Friday from 9am to 3.30pm, Saturdays from 9.30am to 3.30pm, and Sundays from 10.30am to 3.30pm.

Starling’s work reflects on, as well as draws inspiration from, people going about their day-to-day business. This attention to people’s lives is what he loves about painting.

Self taught, but having completed training and been inspired by many people over the past decade or so, Starling is exhibiting three, large-scale canvas pieces inspired by his travels to Mexico, and with a common theme of people earning a honest day’s living.

He uses a method of drafting which is helpful in transferring his ideas to a larger scale on canvas. This maintains the accuracy and proportion of his initial drawing of the image.

Another work by Nigel Starling on view in Pietermaritzburg.

Starling enjoys using the alkyd medium which replaces the linseed oil with alkyd resin.This decreases the drying time and allows the artist a better flow and transparency to the colour of the oil paint.

The Blue Caterpillar Art Gallery was established in 2001. It covers two floors of the Butterflies for Africa complex in Pietermaritzburg. The gallery exhibits a wide range of styles and mediums covering both established and up and coming artists from South Africa and beyond.

A wide range of local artists is featured – see the website www.artsales.co.za which is regularly updated with new work, says curator Jeni Cramer.

The Starling exhibition will run until the end of July. More information is available from Cramer at (033) 387 1356.

Meanwhile, Durban’s KZNSA Gallery in Glenwood opened a solo exhibition by Andries Gouws, titled Vertoef/Linger, on May 22 and is scheduled to present it until June 10.

Vertoef/Linger is Gouwss’ fifth one-man show at this park gallery. Before it arrived in Durban, it visited the Pretoria Art Museum, and after Durban it will go to the Irma Stern Museum in Cape Town.

Gouws previously had one-man shows in Chicago, Bloemfontein, Johannesburg, Kimberley, Cape Town, Grahamstown, Oudtshoorn, Potchefstroom and Stellenbosch.

“Why do I paint the way I do? Why do I paint all these rooms without people, these mirrors, these feet? I don’t know. What do my paintings mean? I don’t know,” the artist says.

“As an artist and as a philosopher I have learnt that there is no verbal equivalent for what happens visually in a painting. Moreover, the artist’s words carry no special authority.

“I tread gingerly when making an artist’s statement. Whatever I say is speculative and tentative. The silence or muteness I strive for in my paintings would be lost if they suggested a meaning which can be captured directly in words.”

He continues: “Meditation – lingering in an awareness of the here and now – plays a large role in my life. To me the mood of my paintings suggests something between the meditative and a sense of failure, perhaps abjection.

“Had they been only meditative I don’t think viewers would have found them awkward, uncanny or even desolate, in the way they do.

“Art works don’t simply arise from the artist’s personal experience, but always also from a dialogue with other artists. My paintings are a modest salute to painters like Vermeer, Piero, Morandi, Arikha, and how they capture light, space and stillness.

“Although many of the artists I admire, like Goya, Guston and Kentridge, engage with the problems and terrors of the social and political world, I can’t emulate them – the place my work arises from is too different.”

A work by Andries Gouws on show at the KZNSA Gallery in Glenwood, Durban.

BILLY SUTER reports that two varied new exhibitions, one in Durban and the other in Pietermaritzburg, are sure to attract art lovers. … More Art works by Starling and Gouws

Rich pickings at SA arts festival

The South African State Theatre presents Kiu (the Swahili word for ‘thirst’), a dance work choreographed and directed by Mdu Nhlapo.

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BY BILLY SUTER

DURBAN talents Musa Hlatshwayo (dance) and Guy Buttery (music) are among 2018 Standard Bank Young Artist Award winners to be highlighted at the 44th National Arts Festival, scheduled for June 28 to July 8 in Grahamstown.

Of note, too, is that international singer-songwriter Suzanne Vega, of Luka fame, will be performing just two shows – wrapping up the festival on July 7 and 8. Grahamstown is her only destination in South Africa on this tour.

Durban dance icon Musa Hlatshwayo is to present Udodona, a dance work which, against the many ongoing incidents that draw attention to the silenced brokenness of the black male identity, explores the black male body; its associated and constructed identity and its placement in the society (particularly in traditional African communities, households and churches).

Standard Bank Young Artist for Dance 2018, Durban’s Musa Hlatshwayo, presents Udodona, in which he explores the black male body.

Fusing both abstract and narrative approaches, the work explores indoctrination and incubation into the systems that ignore the development of black power and unity.

Guitarist Guy Buttery presents Guy Buttery: The Mending. His endless movement towards a distinct musical voice has led him to distil heritages and traditions (as well as their contradictions and tensions) with de-colonialised elements, into a new and highly innovative song form that combines the artist’s adoration for both Southern African musical traditions and ambient music forms fusing cinematic soundscapes within the context of South Africa.

Buttery will collaborate with artists across a number of works to produce a sound that is expected to include Indian classical aspects and a capella vocals alongside a variety of strings instruments including a sitar and double bass, with Buttery on an improvised soundscapes, mbira and various guitars.

The combination of this varied instrumentation creates a rich tapestry pioneering new musical terrain and will surely be something National Arts Festival audiences will remember for years to come.

The festival’s Main programme this year is a “heady mix of uniquely South African and international arts, culture and creativity,” says the event’s executive producer, Ashraf Johaardien

“The festival deliberately juxtaposes high concept with entertainment for all because it is precisely the tension between those two poles of artistic expression that fuels the engine that drives the National Arts Festival’s 11 Days of Amazing,” he adds.

The festival spotlight this year falls firmly on a phenomenal range of both emerging and established female artists. Look out for (among many others) choreographer and this year’s Featured Artist Mamela Nyamza, visual artist Gabrielle Goliath, author Mary Watson, curator Tina Smith, actors Klara van Wyk and Buhle Ngaba, as well as Standard Bank Young Artists Thandi Ntuli, Jemma Kahn and Chuma Sopotela.

The Main programme segues from fresh takes on Shakespeare and the return of Corne and Twakkie in The Most Amazing Show to the ‘un-dance’ of Steven Cohen, the compelling ‘un-theatre’ of visiting Canadian playwright Greg MacArthur, and the  unconventional Theatre In The Backyard of Nyanga-based theatre producer and director Mhlanguli George.”

Durban’s Guy Buttery whose Guy Buttery: The Mending will see the Standard Bank Young Artist for Music 2018 collaborate with artists to create cinematic soundscapes.

“Each year the Festival sheds its skin and presents a whole new experience for our visitors – and the innovations we’re introducing will make sure that 2018 is no exception,” says festival CEO Tony Lankester.

“We’ve given a lot of thought to the way audiences engage with us, what they want to get out of the time they spend in Grahamstown and we’re helping create many and varied pathways to an amazing experience.

Trailblazing dancer and choreographer Mamela Nyamza takes the title of Featured Artist in 2018. The Featured Artist is recognised for contribution to the South African cultural narrative and is invited to bring multiple works to the festival.

Nyamza will present three works, including a new piece, Black Privilege. Presented by the National Arts Festival, co-commissioned by Ruhrtriennale (Germany) and co-produced by PACT Zollverein (Germany), the work is informed by the artist’s experience of the rejection of the other by mainstream gatekeeping institutions.

Nyamza’s Phuma-Langa, presented by The Forgotten Angle Theatre Collaborative, calls for renewed reconciliation of all South Africans through the diverse experiences of the country’s many cultures.

Hatched, first brought to the festival 10 years ago, is Nyamza’s autobiographical piece about the life changes experienced through motherhood and features Mamela’s 18-year-old son Amkele Mandla, who performed in the show as an eight-year-old when it premiered.

Standard Bank Young Artist for Theatre 2018, Jemma Kahn, presents The Borrow Pit. Through the lens of kamishibai, an ancient Japanese storytelling medium, Kahn tells the story of Francis Bacon and Lucian Freud. These men each had a muse who helped them on their way to prodigious fame. As you might suspect, it did not end so well for the muses.

The Borrow Pit asks with harrowing humour, ‘Is art more important than people?’ Written, directed and illustrated by Kahn, she also joins a stellar cast of Tony Miyambo, Wilhelm van der Walt and David Viviers.

A scene from put your heart under your feet… and walk / To Elu, performance artist Steven Cohen’s intense meditation on loss, grief and absence, following the death of Elu, his partner and artistic collaborator.

Standard Bank Young Artist for Performance Art 2018, Chuma Sopotela, presents Indlulamthi. Indlulamthi is the Xhosa word for a giraffe but, in direct translation, it also means ‘the ones who are taller than the trees’.

Sopetela uses this image to celebrate the children who are on the pavements of Grahamstown. The piece will be performed on the streets of Grahamstown and, using video, sound and performance elements, seeks to challenge our thinking of currency; and the connection between people. “At height, Indlulamthi will be almost a statue element, which will then dissolve into nothingness again”, says Sopotela.

Standard Bank Young Artist for Visual Art 2018, Igshaan Adams, presents When Dust Settles. Incorporating aspects of scented sculpture, textiles, found objects and performance, the installation will comprise between 15 and 20 artworks and takes the form of an immersive environment in the subterranean space of the Monument in Grahamstown.

Revisiting earlier bodies of work, the presentation will draw inspiration from conceptual themes, artistic processes and materialities dating back several years to investigate the evolution of ideas within the artist’s practice. The work includes a performative element with Adams’s brother, Kashief Adams.

Standard Bank Young Artist for Jazz 2018, Thandi Ntuli, presents a trio of works at the Standard Bank Jazz Festival.The first, on June 29, will be an exploration of her music to date, from her album The Offering, and the recently released, Exiled.

On June 30, she will be in Rebirth of Cool with DJKenzhero on the decks and a powerful young band to create a reinterpretation of Miles Davis’s seminal 1957 album, Birth of the Cool. This, mixed with the sounds and styles of current South Africa, results in a merging of three generations of music – 1960s jazz, 1990s hip-hop and contemporary South African jazz fusion.

July 1 sees Ntuli on the piano in Way of Dancing. Two of Switzerland’s most interesting young vocalists, Lisette Spinnler and Julie Fahrer, in South Africa on a ProHelvetia residency, share their music with an excellent South African rhythm section, blending the sound of jazz from two continents.

Their music collectively draws attention to the modern and progressive approaches to jazz that the new generation of music-makers represents, weaving a tapestry of sound ever intriguing and beautiful. They are joined by Shane Cooper (bass) and Peter Auret (drums).

Among other items on the The Main Programme is the dance work Amaqhawe, a piece that explores what would happen if those who died for  freedom woke up. What would they say? Mzokuthula Gasa, who makes his first appearance on the Main Programme, choreographs and directs Amaqhawe.

Swiss author and director Boris Nikitin rewrites Hamlet into a mix of experimental documentary play and music theatre. It stars Julian Meding.

Moving Into Dance Mophatong will celebrate its 40-year anniversary with Ukubonga Inhlonipho, a programme choreographed by Sylvia Glasser, Themba Mbuli and Sunnyboy Motau, and starring the leading talents of Muzi Shili, Teboho Letele and Oscar Buthelezi, amongst others. The three works on the bill honour the company’s achievements and pay respect to the work and artistry of MIDM founder, Sylvia Glasser.

The 2018 ballet is Romeo and Juliet performed by Cape Town City Ballet under artistic director Robin van Wyk. Set to the classic Prokofiev score, this traditional favourite will be performed in the Guy Butler Theatre.

The South African State Theatre presents Kiu (the Swahili word for ‘thirst’). An examination of drought in Africa and the importance of preserving water, this raw and sensitive piece is choreographed and directed by Mdu Nhlapo. It will be performed to hauntingly beautiful, live Afrocentric music.

Bridging the gap between performance and visual art, formidable artist Steven Cohen will perform his work, put your heart under your feet… and walk/ To Elu, an intense meditation on loss, grief and absence, following the death of Elu, Cohen’s partner and artistic collaborator. Shocking, sad, beautiful and uncomfortable all at once, it is said to bean unforgettable piece.

Gathering Strands is a retrospective exhibition of works by Lionel Davis, artist, educator, anti-apartheid activist, political prisoner and former District Six resident. Best known for his linocuts of life in District Six, Davis held a retrospective at the National Gallery in Cape Town in July. The exhibition celebrates four decades of Davis’s activism and creative production.

On the theatre front, an interesting choice seems likely to be Swiss author and director Boris Nikitin’s rewrite of Hamlet, into a mix of experimental documentary play and music theatre. The enigmatic performer and electronic musician Julian Meding takes the part of a contemporary Hamlet who revolts against reality.

Supported by a baroque-quartet, Meding is a tour de force on stage as the piece challenges form with an array of multimedia elements. This approach will see the production being staged as part of the Creativate Digital Arts Festival as well as the Festival’s Main programme.

Jungfrau is also a must. It is the latest directorial work from 2016 Standard Bank Young Artist for Theatre Jade Bowers. Based on the novel by Caine Prize-winning South African writer Mary Watson, the book has been adapted for the stage by Ameera Patel, who also takes a lead role.

Of interest too, is UJ Arts & Culture’s rendition of Reza de Wet’s iconic African Gothic (translation of Diepegrond) which is the culmination of a process that has involved more than 300 students and lecturers from different departments at the UJ Faculty of Art, Design and Architecture (FADA). It is directed by Alby Michaels.

Maude Sandham in Tracks.

Staged, UJ Arts & Culture’s theatre development platform, is an extension of the successful UJ Can You? programme, which identifies and develops hidden talent from among the university’s 50 000 students.

The UJ STAGED showcase on the festival programme similarly seeks to nurture new plays and professional talent by creating a national platform to highlight selected works to local and international producers and presenters.

The STAGED productions for 2018 include Wynne Bredenkamp’s At The Edge of The Light (South Africa), Joakim Daun’s The Incident (Sweden/Zimbabwe/ South Africa), Greg MacArthur’s A CITY (Canada/South Africa), and Tracks by Maude Sandham and Nicola Pilkington.

The music selection for this year’s Festival is a vital tribute to collaboration, curiosity and experimentation.

A highlight will be the Standard Bank Jazz Festival and the National Arts Festival presenting Afropoets, a one-night only (July 6) phenomenon, featuring the fresh sounds of Urban Village – folk music layered with electric, funk and traditional influences – collaborating with guitar master Madala Kunene.

They will be joined by The Brother Moves On, a South African performance art ensemble that critics have hailed as “the most important band in this country”, and the new face of Afro-folk, Bongeziwe Mabandla, who is effortlessly able to entwine iXhosa lyrics with traditional music and folk stylings to create something uniquely captivating.

For more festival information visit www.nationalartsfestival.co.za

BILLY SUTER reports that two Durban talents will feature prominently at the 44th National Arts Festival to be held in Grahamstown from June 28 to July 8 … More Rich pickings at SA arts festival

Bassist, chef and painter…

Simon Pontin, bassist, chef and artist, is back in Durban with an exhibition of his paintings.

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BY BILLY SUTER

IF YOU were a regular fan of music and supper theatre in Durban in the ’80s and ’90s you are sure to recall Simon Pontin, a bassist who appeared in such shows as The Guitar That Rocked the World, Good Vibrations and The Piano Men. He also featured in popular bands including Urban Creep, Skin Trade and The Tim Wells Band.

So what became of the amiable musician? Well, it is good to report that he is alive and well, now 48, and has been living in Edinburgh in Scotland for the past decade, where he is making a living as a chef for event catering.

He is still dabbling in music – check out his two original albums, free, on the link below – and is also creating art these days, having attained a Higher Diploma in Fine Art: Painting from the then-Technikon Natal in Durban 1992.

A work by Simon Pontin.

It is his art that is highlighting Pontin again in Durban – he is visiting to present  some of his paintings at an exhibition in Gillitts, where it will run concurrently with an exhibition of  photographs by local DJ and photographer Manoj Budhu. The works will be on show from April 13 to 30 at The Old House Gallery, 19 Alexander Drive in Gillitts.

The Old House Gallery will be open from 10am until 6pm Monday to Friday. Private viewings can be arranged for serious buyers by special request.

Pontin says of his art: “My aim is to produce as much quality, experience-based artworks as possible.”

He adds: “ I loosely adhere to the principles of Transpersonal Art. I believe that art is, in its archetypal form, a means for man to transcend the obvious and the physical, manifesting the spiritual reality of the self.

“I believe that through the process of creating  my work, and the materials and
meditation employed, a transmutation of substance occurs. This process is a spiritual  journey, a process of cleansing and healing that even though mostly misunderstood by myself, leaves me with a sense of connection to the world around me, and a general feeling of well being.”

He describes his creative process as generally involving working on at least four to five artworks at one time, each  piece evolving and interacting with
each other.

“Often smaller, individual pieces become incorporated into bigger pieces,  resulting in multifacets of meaning and imagery. Some pieces evolve over many months, even years, the intentional ageing and deterioration of substances and materials manifesting the creative process over time.”

Of his original music, Pontin says :”My aim is to create music that is melodic and interesting, but at the same time, does not stick to any predetermined formula or style. For a full bio go to http://www.simonpontin.com.”

NOTE: Pontin’s two solo albums, produced in Edinburgh, are available by clicking here: http://www.reverbnation.com/sidetracksi

 

BILLY SUTER reports that former Durban bassist Simon Pontin, now based in Edinburgh as a chef, is back in South Africa and in the spotlight – this time with his art exhibition in Gillitts. … More Bassist, chef and painter…

Stott’s focus on the female form

A work by Bemice Stott that forms part of her latest exhibition, opening in Umhlanga on February 1.

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BY BILLY SUTER

A LESS obvious and opposing view of the female body, using pen and ink drawings on lightweight, acid-free paper, displayed in suspension so both the front and the reverse side of the image can be viewed.

That’s at the core of Everything I Never Told You, a solo exhibition by Bernice Stott, to be presented from February 1 to March 1 at the Artplus Gallery, 32 Solstice Road, Umhlanga.

“The reverse side is more ethereal and mysterious than the ‘front’ view, presuming the ‘front’ view to be explicit. It is a resistant view in that the sensuousness of the body is subtle and the subject seems to have more ownership of how she wishes to be viewed,” explains Stott.

“The human narrative holds mystery for me and is at the centre of my work. I am also  intrigued by the female body in contemporary South Africa and social issues of the environment.

Another work by Bernice Stott.

“Currently I am drawing and painting, although photography has led me to into the media of video and performance art. Art-making feeds my soul: it is a place of solitude yet it provides me with an engagement of both my internal and external lifem,” she adds.

“The female body has been a consistent interest of mine. Figure drawing is arguably the most difficult subject an artist commonly encounters. Artists draw from live models or photographs, memory and imagination.

“Drawing from imagination is often lauded for the expressiveness it encourages, and criticised for the inaccuracies introduced by the artist’s limited memory in visualising the human figure.

“The 1970’s saw a burgeoning of artists focusing on ways in which the female body is presented, particularly focusing on female objectification; where a woman is viewed as an object whilst a man is the viewing subject. In the history of painting this dominant view came to be identified and named the ‘male gaze’.”

Stott has worked across disciplines in the media of painting, photography, sculpture, installation and performance art. Her associated activities have included curatorship of exhibitions and community art projects.

Nationally, she has exhibited in several centres, including the acclaimed Liquid Light at artSPACE Durban (2014). She has a Masters Degree in Fine Arts and an Honours Degree in Drama, and has taught in both the Fine Arts and the Drama Departments of Durban University of Technology, and the Drama Department of UKZN.

The gallery also retails art supplies, offers workshops and lessons and boasts a comfortable coffee shop.

Visit http://www.artplus.co.za or phone 031 584 7016 for more details.

A work from Everything I Never Told You, a solo exhibition by Bernice Stott

BILLY SUTER reports that the female form pulls the focus in “Everything I Never Told You”, an exhibition by Bernice Stott, to be presented from February 1 at a gallery in Umhlanga. … More Stott’s focus on the female form

Bernon, cattle and drama

A work by Sue Bernon on show in Pietermaritzburg until the end of February.

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BY BILLY SUTER

FOURTEEN works are featured in a new exhibition by artist Sue Bernon which runs until the end of February at The Blue Caterpillar Gallery at the Butterflies for Africa Centre, 37 Willowton Road, Pietermaritzburg, just off the N3 highway.

Bernon, who mostly works in oils and also creates sculptural work in clay, is showing nine pieces depicting cattle with different backgrounds, and where variety of size and backgrounds gives each painting its own feel.

These works include dramatic, stormy skies, and surroundings which sometimes include a kind of tapestry of blending colours and light, which show off her talent as an experienced artist.

Another work depicting cattle, by Sue Bernon.

“Sue’s paintings of Proteas also form part of her exhibition, showing off their natural beauty against different backdrops which drastically change the outcome of the how the paintings look,: says a gallery spokesman.

Says Sue: “I am a South African fine artist. Graduated with a fine art degree, I have been making art my career ever since. I work in various art forms, and attend many art workshops. I also train students in my area.

“I regularly exhibit my work, and it can be found in many South African homes as well as in Australia, New Zealand, Britain and the US. “

Her work is inspired by form and colour, and the sources and variations of colour as light falls on it.

“I aim at depicting the drawn and colour form into an unusual tapestry style, without losing sensitivity and character. I strive to draw the viewer into my paintings by leaving little bits of unfinished places.

“My love for drawing, and passion for colour, inspire me to continually create nostalgic paintings.”

For more information contact Jeni Cramer at (033) 387 1356 or visit www.artsales.co.za

A protea by Sue Bernon.
Another striking painting by Sue Bernon.

BILLY SUTER reports on a new exhibition in Pietermaritzburg by local artist Sue Bernon- 14 works dominated by cattle. It runs until the end of February at The Blue Caterpillar Gallery. … More Bernon, cattle and drama

Capturing moments of malfunction

Corné Eksteen’s Wilhelm Scream I, an oil on canvas measuring 80cm x 80cm x 5cm.

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BY BILLY SUTER

DURBAN artist Corné Eksteen is presenting Anomaly, an exhibition of portraits, at Durban’s Artspace gallery, until December 22.

The exhibition, which opened on December 2, is the final one of the year at the gallery at 3 Millar Road, off Umgeni Road. It will feature a walkabout with the artist at 11am on Saturday, December 9. He will discuss themes, concepts and techniques used in the artworks.

“As much as contemporary art is about commentary on art itself, some of its fundamental intent remains: art is about reflecting (in some cases even defining) our times, values and culture,” says Eksteen.

“When one looks back at the legacy of art and the timeline in human history it represents, you become aware of our ever-growing, ever-expanding visual language: our ability to continuously develop new modes of expression and our capacity for and vigour in constantly creating new visual metaphors, incorporating imagery from an ever-changing world in new and innovative reflections of that world.

“Today more than ever, a good level of visual literacy is as important as a higher education in navigating a culture that is visually driven in every aspect.”

It is this highly developed visual language of the 21st century, with “dialects” of symbolism, iconography and branding, that serve as primary reference for this body of work, adds Eksteen.

“Our visual culture is largely driven by technology.  Much of our everyday experience of the world is now filtered through a screen of some kind. Our technology is not flawless and often presents us with ‘glitches’ or visual malfunctions.

“As a starting point I am ‘capturing’ and incorporating these moments of malfunction, both accidental and intentional, in the creation of a new series of portraits. Using these imperfections as a vehicle for social commentary and commentary on art itself.”

Works in the series explore the polarities between the controlled and unpredictable, he says, adding that the exhibition “focuses on the repurposing of intentionally corrupted imagery and questions what it means if we reclaim the ‘errors’ in our technology and use them as tools in representing and defining ourselves”.

BILLY SUTER reports that Durban artist Corné Eksteen is presenting “Anomaly”, an exhibition of portraits, at Durban’s Artspace gallery, Morningside, until December 22. … More Capturing moments of malfunction

‘Memoryscapes’ at Blue Caterpillar

A work by Durban’s Dianne van Wyk that forms part of her Memoryscapes exhibition in Pietermaritzburg.

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BILLY SUTER

DURBAN artist Dianne van Wyk is exhibiting until the end of November at Pietermaritzburg’s Blue Caterpillar Gallery which occupies two floors at the Butterflies for Africa complex at 37 Willowton Road, just off the N3 highway.

Van Wyk, who enjoys working with oils on canvas but has experience in most mediums, is presenting Memoryscapes, which, according to a gallery spokesman, captures real and imaginary places in a way that invokes an almost nostalgic reaction in the viewer.

“She has had a passion for art for most of her life, but Dianne has only recently been able to pursue this passion seriously. She enjoys working with oils, mostly on canvas, but has experience in mediums such as acrylics, inks and various other drawing media,” adds the spokesman.

Lake, a painting by Dianne van Wyk of Durban.

“Her focus is predominately on portraits and figurative work but she also paints landscapes, using her own technique and interpretation.

“When undertaking portrait and figurative work she likes to explore the individual’s human condition and the resulting emotions which make them visible through her paintings.

“Capturing the authentic character of the subject by dispelling the mask that is being represented or shown to the world, and this fascination of what is ‘behind the mask’, is why she pursues this particular subject matter.

“Di loves to be challenged by what she does. She continues to participate in numerous workshops to improve her skills, and enjoys learning and growing as an artist.

“She has also been involved in many group and individual exhibitions around South Africa and her work is gaining popularity in top homes and galleries around the country.”

Van Wyk studied for a three-year fine art NDP degree at the University of KwaZuklu-Natal, where she was awarded the second- year prize for Drawing and Design. She went on to be a finalist at both the 2008 Nivea Art Awards and the 2010 National Sasol New Signatures Awards.

The Blue Caterpillar Art Gallery, established in 2001, exhibits a wide range of styles and mediums covering both established and up-and-coming artists from South Africa and elsewhere. It also buys work by popular, well-established South African artists.

It is part of the Butterflies for Africa complex, where there is a walk-through butterfly house where visitors walk amongst butterflies (as well as birds, fish and even monkeys) from across the world.  There’s also a theme store, garden and a  coffee shop on the premises. The phone number is (033) 3871356

NOTE: See my  earlier feature on the Butterflies for Africa complex under this site’s  ‘Leisure’ category – accessed near the top of the cover page of sosuterbill.com

A section of the Blue Caterpillar Gallery at the Butterflies for Africa complex in Pietermaritzburg,

 

BILLY SUTER reports that Durban artist Dianne van Wyk is exhibiting at Pietermaritzburg’s Blue Caterpillar Gallery, which occupies two floors at the Butterflies for Africa complex. … More ‘Memoryscapes’ at Blue Caterpillar

Innovation at DUT’s DigiFest

A moment from last year’s DigiFest at the Durban University of Technology. This and all other pictures featured here are by Erin Wulfsohn.

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BY BILLY SUTER

A NOVEMBER public event in Durban will celebrate the creative spirit through multimedia projects, from disciplines such as visual and performing arts, while promoting collaborations across art, science and technology.

It is DigitFest 4, the annual arts and design digital festival, to be held from November 6 to 11 at the Durban University of Technology (DUT) on the Berea. It will feature a series of live art activations, innovations, exhibitions, discussions, workshops, music, poetry, dance and drama as well as craft and street food markets.

“The theme this year is ‘glitch’ which informs the content of the fest that will engage, contest, celebrate and question the idea of malfunctions, technical mishaps and imperfections in systems,” says Dr Rene Smith, the festival director and executive dean for the faculty of Arts and Design.

“Curated projects will speak to the disruption and subversion of formats, spaces, places and technologies. It is about questioning and going beyond traditional notions of art in an interdisciplinary, multimedia world, where design and creativity merge and interact with science and technology broadly.”

Opening night, on November 6, will highlight a collaborative, live audiovisual performance co-ordinated by Johannesburg-based electronic artist, cultural activist and producer, Marcus Neustetter. It will feature a selection of local artists.

Another moment from last year’s DigiFest at the Durban University of Technology.

Sue Gollifer, the chair of the ISEA international board, will introduce ISEA as a precursor to ISEA2018 (International Symposium on Electronic Art), which takes place in Durban next year. The Alumni and Development Department will be running a competition to pledge support for the Missing Middle campaign.

In a new move, the festival will host a series of events across venues in Durban. On November 7, the KZNSA Gallery in Glenwood will host the DUT Fine Art Department exhibition, and an installation by Bongumenzi Ngobese which  examines elements of sound, which address issues of context through video. The night will features a special performance by Zimbabwean multi-media artist, Robert Machiri.

“An evening of style takes place at the DUT Brickfield Campus on November 8, with a multi-media fashion experience featuring leading innovations in the fashion and textiles department,” says a spokesman.

The event will feature a special guest DJ, the name of whom has yet to be announced. B-Tech students’ final portfolio exhibitions will be on display and student-run, pop-up shops will have jewellery and craft on sale.

“A breakaway session on November 9, at the Green Camp, a creative hub of urban farming and green rehabilitated art in Umbilo, will features the premiere of the film, Street Art and Mural Art as Visual Activism in Durban, by artist Mook Lion.

A Sketch, an installation of bricolage video work by Glenn Adendorff and Rob Da Banka , will close the night.

“The city campus explodes with creativity from 10am on Friday, November 10, with a host of prominent speakers in the world of arts, design and digital media.

A scene from last year’s DigiFest in Durban.

“In the courtyard, student entrepreneurs will showcase their products and innovations. Exhibitions will be open throughout the afternoon and will feature projects from various departments, including graphic design, jewellery, interior design, journalism and video technology, as well as individual exhibitions from range of young local artists working in the digital arts.”

The Talk Fest at the city campus that day will include speakers Sheetal Cross (SA) – Virtual Reality, Kirstin Wiedow (Namibia) – NUST-DUT Polar Project, Mari Pete (SA) – Glitches in ELearning, Prof Oliviera (Brazil) – LabInter Project, Tegan Bristow (SA) – Fakugesi Festival, Arjon Dunnewind (Netherlands) – Frankenstein in the Garden of Eden.

The Makerspace is to host a workshop that will allow a fixed number of participants the opportunity to collaborate and build doodle bots. This session will be open to all, on a first-come basis, and submissions can be done via digifest@dut.ac.za.

The day culminates with the popular PechaKucha, a gathering of inspired minds who present ideas, thoughts, dreams and creative insights. This year some of the speakers include Llwellyn Makhanya (photographer), Richard Gevers (civic data activist), Mark Stuart (developer), Brad Vause (musician and App developer), Zwelisha Giampietri (multi-media designer), Sihle Mthembu (iournalist), Bylwansta (designer and rapper) and others.

“On Saturday, November 11, the Steve Biko Campus becomes the focus with live performances in the form of poetry and open-mic sessions, a cross-platform theatrical piece entitled Duped, and a hi-hop battle closing the evening with a great line-up of music by ByLwansta, Gaba, Rude Boyz, Moonchild, Sibot and Toyota and Sparks Bantwana,” adds the spokesman.

A highlight of DigiFest 4 will be The Digital Battle, which will take place at the DUT Gallery on November 11. This is a live, head-to-head design tournament where participants show their skills in front of an audience and compete for prizes.

The competitors will engage in a battle of their choice ,including 2D design, animation, character design and video editing. Entries are now open and close on November 8. Visit www.designbattles.co.za/durban.html to sign up.

“We are pleased to be presenting DigiFest 4 again this year, as it provides a valuable opportunity for students to showcase their work, and to collaborate with professionals and other creatives,” says Steve Jones, festival manager.

“We aim to build an event that stands tall on the Durban calendar and engages the highest level of the work from around the world to be presented.”

All are welcome and entrance is free, with the exception of November 11 events at Steve Biko ca[us,  where tickets will be free for students and R40 for the public.

The full programme can be found on the website: digifest.dut.ac.za

BILLY SUTER reports that Durban is soon to welcome a fourth annual campus festival that sets out to promote colourful collaborations across art, science and technology. … More Innovation at DUT’s DigiFest

Heidi and her flair with florals

Heidi Shedlock’s Lace Bouquet 1, an oil on canvas with a 40cm diameter.

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BY BILLY SUTER

AN EXHIBITION with emphasis on floral art by Durban’s Heidi Shedlock, titled Serendipity, is to be seen at artSPACE Durban, 3 Millar Road, off Umgeni Road, until November 2.

Heidi has been involved in education but now paints full-time from her studio in Durban North. She intentionally seeks to nestle her arrangements safely within nurturing circular and oval formats.

Says a gallery spokesman: “She believes ‘serendipity’ is as much about ‘consciousness’ as it is about valuable fortuitous discovery: It’s about keeping your eyes open and appreciating a fleeting moment that would normally be lost… finding something when looking for something else. This antithesis can be the result of an observant mind…”

Heidi Shedlock’s Shadow Blooms.

This, the spokesman adds, explains Heidi’s aesthetic, soulful connection to all things floral. Flowers in her work are not mere representations, but a vehicle by which she explores colour, form, texture and pattern that collide in a ‘serendipitous’ experience.

Heidi refers to “beauty” without apology and acknowledges the current international trends to revive floral tradition and history. Aware that her roses may be judged as “safe” or “decorative”, she subtly underpins her compositions without the support of the vase in an attempt to remove the focus from mere representation or decoration.

She repurposes found objects with dormant historical essence, reconnecting them with meaning and embellishing them with serendipitous marks of paint, colour and texture. She finds the story and the paradox.

“A catalyst of blended blossoms offers a lingering dose of nostalgia when first encountering Heidi Shedlock’s paintings,” says the spokesman,

“Then comes the transforming ‘serendipitous’ moment when portholes of intensely layered blossoms are captured in circular motion through layered forms, and a choreography of expressive mark-making that creates an aesthetic sensibility that is not only seen, but felt and experienced.”

Note that the gallery is open from 10am to 4pm Mondays to Fridays, 10am to 1pm on Saturdays, and is closed on Sundays. The phone number is (031) 3120793.

BILLY SUTER reports on an exhibition with emphasis on floral art, by Durban’s Heidi Shedlock. It is to be seen at artSPACE Durban, 3 Millar Road, off Umgeni Road. … More Heidi and her flair with florals