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.


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

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.


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”

NOTE: Pontin’s two solo albums, produced in Edinburgh, are available by clicking here:


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.


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 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.


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

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.


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.


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

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.


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

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 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:

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.


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

Karen, property and paintings

Karen and Tony Dennyschene at their Umhlanga offices. The painting of the iconic Umhlanga lighthouse is a work by Karen.


WHAT do colourful flora and fauna – and, for that matter, John Lennon and Yoko Ono – have in common with Karen Dennyschene, who, with husband Tony, is a manager and selling agent at the Dormehl and Phalane Group’s Umhlanga branch?

The answer is that Karen – a member of the property group since 2016; involved with Tony in real estate for more than 15 years, specialising in the Umhlanga area – is a popular and talented artist with a penchant for painting flora, fauna and other commissioned works.

She and Tony also have a passion for flipping homes…or, as Karen puts it, “ “buying ugly ducklings to renovate and sell”.

Cape Town-born Karen’s skill with a paintbrush started when she was very young.

“I was always drawing as a child and did art at school. I studied graphic design and am a self-taught fine artist, but attended many courses and classes over the year,” she explains.

Her talents grew considerably over the years and she is now regularly approached to paint commissioned works – among them a graffiti-styled, life-size portrait of John Lennon and Yoko Ono.

Karen’s graffiti-styled, life-size portrait of John Lennon and Yoko Ono. It measures 2m x 1.6m, and was commissioned for a new home.

“It was a large-scale painting that I particularly enjoyed doing. It measured 2m x 1.6m, and was commissioned for a new home,” she says, pointing out that the first work she sold was to a small interior decorating shop.

“It was a small painting of a Koi fish. I was so thrilled and encouraged.”

Karen’s first art commission was for a series of wildlife paintings for a corporate client. She smiles and adds: “I remember having shattered nerves, but it all worked out well in the end”.

She has created many paintings since: “Must be hundreds! Most of my work is commissioned by interior decorators or the galleries where I exhibit. My paintings have found their way to Australia, UK, America and I recently sent a painting to Austria.”

Karen was also one of three South African artists selected to train in Slovenia for the Golden Artists Educator Programme. This is an international group of art educators trained by Golden Paints, an American company. She was also selected to present a painting workshop in Miami in 2015, at a conference.

She cannot say she has a favourite painting, but points out that once she has done a painting, she is always a little sad to see it go: “I feel like it’s something I won’t ever do again. Most of my paintings are really large. I rarely paint small. The largest I have done was 2,5 m in length.”

Large works can be a challenge: “I am up and down a ladder working with outsize brushes. Arranging transport and accommodating these massive canvasses is a challenge as well.”

A work by Karen Dennyschene.

Karen loves to paint anything from nature: “I am inspired by my surroundings, and I am so lucky to live in a sub-tropical area, as I am surrounded by bright plants, trees and foliage. I also love painting animals and wildlife.”

She paints in all mediums but prefers acrylic and mixed-media painting as it provides instant gratification: “There is no waiting ages for the paint to dry. Also, there are so many exciting new paints and products available in acrylics.”

Among other highlights of her work is a painting commissioned for the British Lions. The painting of a lion was presented to the visiting British Lions rugby team, and is now on display at Twickenham.

“My latest painting is an orchid botanical in an oriental style. It is going to its new home in the UK. This client bought two paintings some time ago and the new one was commissioned for her sister. It is 90cm x90 cm. It took about three days to paint.”

Karen considers herself lucky to have repeat business and loyal customers.

“ I have a large project in the pipeline that will keep me busy for the next few months. I am working on a series of three abstract paintings, but fortunately, the customer is not in a hurry and I can take my time.

“I paint whenever I have a chance. I work mainly over weekends (when not doing show houses) and at night.”

Karen is every bit as enthusiastic about her work in property as she is about her art.

“We have worked with Owen Dormehl for many years. He has built a strong brand which is very well respected. We get tremendous support in terms of advertising, IT support , strong branding and a lovely new office.”

The new Umhlanga office is designed for a small team of dedicated people with a strong emphasis on service, she explains.

“This is a high-tech working space for agents to work from. There are currently three agents. Tony and I are selling agents as well as management.”

Karen and Tony met in the United States, she says: “We were both there on holiday and by coincidence stayed in the same hotel. That was in 1983… and we have been together ever since.”

Tony is a creative thinker and a good critic but cannot draw, she adds when asked if he also has artistic talent.

Karen paints in all mediums but prefers acrylic and mixed-media painting as it provides instant gratification, she says.


Most of Karen’s work is commissioned by interior decorators or the galleries where she exhibits.

BILLY SUTER asks what colourful flora and fauna – and, for that matter, John Lennon and Yoko Ono – have in common with Umhlanga property agent Karen Dennyschene. … More Karen, property and paintings

Light, space, hues and shades

An oil on canvas by Alison Akal, on show in the Light and Space exhibition. Titled London Morning, it measures 80cm x 120cm.
A work by Michelle Irving titled Protea Field. It measures 80cm x 130cm.


A GROUP show of paintings, Light and Space, featuring work by Michelle Irving, Alison Akal, Haley Wright and Ilma Matthews, runs until Thursday, September 14, at Durban’s artSpace gallery at 3 Millar Road, off Umgeni Road.

Thereafter, from September 16 to 21, the gallery will present its sixth art exchange exhibition, Exchange and Artists’ Choice Award 2017. Then, from September 23 to October 12, the gallery will present Hues and Shades, a solo exhibition by Raja Oshi.

“In this crazy, busy, daunting space we live in, we felt it was time to reflect on our personal space and the light we were reflecting within it,” says a gallery spokesman of Light and Space.

Haley Wright’s 80cm x 100cm oil painting titled Tangerine Play Off, on show as part of the Light and Space exhibition.

“We observe objects and people around us to consider how they were perceived and welcomed within the space they occupy.”

The art exchange exhibition will culminate with an awards evening on Thursday, September 21.

“This is an artist-orientated event. We have fun and pay tribute to ourselves as artists.

“With most awards, the decision is made by a panel of judges and is often strangely influenced and rather baffling, but with our Artists’ Choice Award, only participating artists can vote for the best work on show. We believe this gives a respectful ear to our artists so their voices and choices can be heard.”

Each participating artist paid an entry fee and collected a 30cm x 30cm canvas (one per person) from the gallery from early August.

The exhibition will open on  Saturday, September 16, and will continue for a week. Voting will close at 4pm on September 21, with the Awards Evening starting at 6pm.

The theme is Border(s). In terms of definition, the obvious one is the border between two countries, but could also be the border to the edge of as pace or knowledge. It is also used in textile as a strip, or even, in a social context, as in “bordering on an insult”.

The Hues and Shades exhibition by Raja Oshi should be interesting, the artist, from Pietermaritzburg, pointing out that she enjoys adding texture to her surfaces, designing the shape and discovering new adventures.

“It is surprising every time you get a different outcome,” she adds.

Oshi makes her own material, considering it an essential step in the process, and adds: “I weave strips of canvas material together to make my own sort of canvas, with its own specialised texture and response to paint.

“When I rub my cloth ‘tapestry’ layers with cloths dipped in paint, it adds another dimension to my work. It begins to mix and overlap, different materials and layers of paint to reveal hints of colour coming through edges, layers and spaces.”

A work by Raja Oshi titled Stories. Her solo exhibition, Hues and Shades, opens in Durban on September 23.

BILLY SUTER reports on a variety of art exhibitions that are headed for Durban’s artSpace gallery in Millar Road, off Umgeni Road, later this month. … More Light, space, hues and shades