The Association For Visual Arts in partnership with Spier, 35 Church Street, Cape Town, is hosting three new exhibitions. On exhibit in the main gallery is Journey, a group show of limited edition prints by South African and international artists, produced during international residency programmes hosted by the Caversham Centre for Artists and Writers in KwaZulu-Natal. In the long gallery Tamlin Blake will exhibit her latest beaded images in Change Of Address, while upstairs, Barbara Wildenboer will showcase her new mixed works on paper.
Journey was produced during the third international artists’ residency programme under the directorship of Malcolm Christian, founder of the Caversham Centre for Artists and Writers outside Pietermaritzburg, and it was sponsored by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, the Royal Netherlands Embassy, the Fulton County Arts Council, the McColl Center for Visual Arts and the North Carolina Arts Council. It continues the examination of themes explored in the previous two programmes: Past, Present and Future: A Women’s Vision (1999), and Baggage (2000/01). After investigating the vast artistic possibilities for the future through ideas and values relating to the passage of time, highlighting the importance for the individual of examining and caring for social and personal memories in the first programme, and after reassessing the baggage that we all carry at some point or other in our lives, in the second programme, the artists embark on their creative journeys in this show.
The word ‘journey’ connotes a range of possibilities: distance, airplanes, suitcases, voyages, summer holidays, travel to exotic destinations, roads not taken, and new experiences that ultimately offer life-changing options. For some of the 16 participating artists from 5 different countries, the journey was more than a trip to the idyllic setting of the Caversham Centre in rural KwaZulu- Natal. It was a first visit to South Africa with its own long journey of political reform. It was a journey of discovery of the self, of uncovering the multiple identities of strangers, and of discovering a spirit of place.
Jawahirillal reflects on her political journeys in exile and on the sweetness of homecoming. Knott speaks about a spiritual journey as the child of a Southern Presbyterian Minister. Koloane adopts the perspective of the pedestrian waiting for a taxi. Larson’s immediate surroundings of the graveyard around Caversham inspired her metaphorical journey through life and death. Mabote’s journey is about survival. Mbamba traces a physical journey through Namibia. SOHA’S journey resides in the doing of one’s daily tasks. Winterbach tracks the unfortunate journeys of Saartjie Baartman.
Prints have, through the ages, been powerful documents of change. They are eminently suited for such diverse record-keeping. The mission of the Caversham Centre supports diversity, which can be used to connect people to each other, and to their art and their heritage.
Tamlin Blake, in the long gallery, says of her current exhibition: “Change of Address is an exhibition of beaded images. These artworks have been painstakingly woven out of small glass seed beads in a traditional African pattern. In different ways the meticulously detailed old family portraits and rows of South African postage stamps represent the images which formed part of the artist’s visual experience as a child growing up in a segregated country.
In southern Africa beadwork has become a defining feature of cultural identity and also refers to the history of colonisation. As an art medium, therefore, beads symbolise the historic links between Europe and Africa, relationships between black and white and the process of re-assessing and analysing one’s cultural and spiritual belonging as a South African.”
Tamlin Blake has a B A Fine Art (Sculpture) (1995), a B A Fine Art Honours (Illustration) (1999) and a Masters in Fine Art (Illustration) (2001), all from the University of Stellenbosch. The title of her thesis was “South African Botanical Art: A study of Nineteenth and Twentieth Century Imagery”.
Blake began exhibiting on group exhibitions in 1995 in South Africa and abroad in London and Ireland. In 2003 she was a Merit prize winner in the Brett Kebble Art Awards, in 2000 she was awarded a Bronze medal on the Inaugural Kirstenbosch Exhibition of Botanical Art, while in 2002 she received a Silver medal on the Kirstenbosch Biennale and, in the same year, a Silver-Gilt medal on the Royal Horticultural Society Botanical Art Show in London. She has held two solo exhibitions: Exploring Cremnophytes at Bang the Gallery in 2002 and Botanical Art by Tamlin Blake at the Stellenbosch Botanical Gardens in 1999. She has been invited to participate in the 11th International Exhibition of Botanical Art and Illustration at the Hunt Institute for Botanical Documentation at the Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, USA. She is currently a member of the Botanical Artists’ Association of Southern Africa (chairperson in 2003) and of the Watercolour Society of Ireland.
Blake, who has worked as a botanical illustrator, an Art History and Drawing lecturer at the College of Cape Town (2003) and the studio director of The Beading Panel cc (2004), has work reproduced in Cactus and Succulent Journal (U.S.) Vol. 73, March-April 2001, no.2.pg 68, and in Aloe (South Africa), Vol. 38, No 1& 2, 2001. pg 30. She is also included in Marion Arnold’s book: South African botanical Art: Peeling Back the Petals, Cape Town: Fernwood Press, pg 188.
Barbara Wildenboer, upstairs, was born in 1973. She holds a B A of Visual Arts degree, with distinction for the practical component, from UNISA (2003), and a B A (Ed) from the University of Pretoria (1996). In addition, she has attended a variety of courses and workshops in Photography and Desktop Publishing.
Since 2000 she has participated in numerous competitions, which include M- Web New Signatures (2000 Merit award winner), Vuleka (2001, 2002 overall winner and best work in another medium), Photo 2003, ABSA Atelier (2003), the Brett Kebble Art Awards (2003) and Sasol New Signatures (2004) competitions.
Wildenboer began exhibiting on group exhibitions in 2000, including Container (2000), Koester (2002), Summer Salon (2002), Trilogy (2003), all at the Durbanville Cultural Centre; UNISA Student Exhibition (2001, 2003), Exfoliate (2004) at Artb Gallery in Bellville; Old and New at the Sanlam Gallery in Bellville; Spier Outdoor Sculpture Biennale (2004) in Stellenbosch; YDEsire (2003) at the Castle of Good Hope, and Absolut Voyeur (2002) at AVA. This show at AVA will be her first solo.
She has works in both private and corporate collections.
On this exhibition, Wildenboer will be exhibiting a body of mixed media works on paper, in which she employs a variety of techniques, from printmaking to collage. She examines the relationship between art and religion, especially with regard to subject matter and representation, and she explores myth, rite and the symbolic rituals though which we express our mortality.