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Archive: Issue No. 47, July 2001

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Grahamstown - Main festival
26.06.01 Standard Bank Young Artist Award Winner Walter Oltmann
26.06.01 Willie Bester - 'Who Let the Dogs Out'
26.06.01 Artists in residence: Sokhaya Charles Nkosi and Faiza Galdhari
26.06.01 'Painting, Printing and Stitching' - Findlay, Galdhari and Mabunda
26.06.01 'Episodes' - Handspring Puppets
26.06.01 'Re-Constitution: An artists' collaboration'
26.06.01 Hylton Nel retrospective
26.06.01 'Riches of Africa' - Gold jewellery competition
26.06.01 'African Theatre Today'
26.06.01 Obie Oberholzer: Photographs
26.06.01 'Women of the Township, Women of the Village'
Selected fringe exhibitions
26.06.01 Linda Jones - 'Inside: Looking In'
26.06.01 Brent Meistre and Dina Zoe Belluigi
26.06.01 Greg Schultz - 'Landscape'
26.06.01 Maureen Quin - 'Ballet in Bronze'
26.06.01 Nigel Mullins - 'Hopeful Monsters'

Festival shows run from June 28 to July 7

Walter Oltmann

Walter Oltmann
Larva Suit, 2001
Aluminium and steel wire
230 x 160 x 40cm
Photo: Bob Cnoops


Standard Bank Young Artist Award Winner Walter Oltmann

Like last year's Young Artist, Alan Alborough, Walter Oltmann is something of a virtuoso when it comes to working with lo-tech, inexpensive materials and performing artistic alchemy. Like other Natal artists of his generation (Andries Botha, Peter Schütz and some early works by Jeremy Wafer), his ethos owes much to the art and craft history of the province.

For Oltmann, the world of creatures (specifically insects) provides an unending source of fascination. Researching colonial study drawings of the flora and fauna of South Africa, as well as the etchings of Albrecht Dürer, Oltmann has found a way of combining these illustrative, linear depictions with the wirecraft that has become synonymous with "African" material culture.

In brass, copper and aluminium wire and tubing, Oltmann's latest body of work has developed from his gigantic Silverfish that adorns a wall in the Johannesburg Art Gallery, but is now more elaborate and even decorative, with intricate detail sewn onto the woven forms.

His ability to turn the micro world into a macro one is unnerving, especially when you consider the time it must take to intricately weave these creatures that inspire loathing and even fear. Seduced by the tensions inherent in what he makes, Oltmann has also taken to creating what he calls "lava suits" - anthropomorphic insects or, rather, humanoid protective exoskeletons he traces back to illustrations of regalia worn by conquistadors and early explorers during the time of the voyages of discovery. Passion flowers with violently protruding stamens and a sleeping serpent round off the collection and bring with them allusions to the biblical.

Oltmann is the subject of this month's Artbio.

Venue: Monument Gallery

     See Reviews

Willie Bester

Willie Bester

Willie Bester - 'Who Let the Dogs Out'

Working with found metal objects and scrap, which are then galvanised to a brittle silver sheen, Bester has taken the action from the sensational footage featuring local police dogs mauling illegal immigrants, and recreated the main protagonists (a policemen, a cameraman, a victim and a dog) as lifesize sculptures-in-the-round. The only larger-than-life(size) figure is the dog, the camera man has no arms and the policeman is staged as ordering the dog to attack.

A video of the footage is visible through a peephole in the wall, but only the soundtrack is audible when in the midst of the installation.

Venue: Gallery in the Round, Monument

     See Reviews

Sokhaya Charles Nkosi

Sokhaya Charles Nkosi

Artists in residence: Sokhaya Charles Nkosi and Faiza Galdhari

Another annual favourite, the artists in residence programme features artists working in an open studio, allowing visitors to follow their creative process and ask questions. Further dialogue and debate is encouraged by the popular walkabout programme which gives visitors the chance to develop their own interpretations with the guidance of experts. Sokhaya Charles Nkosi, trained at Rorkes Drift in KwaZulu-Natal, works in mixed media and collage; Faiza Galdhari interrogates Muslim identity in her prints.

Venue: Military Gallery, Albany Museum

'Painting, Printing and Stitching' - Bronwyn Findlay, Faiza Galdhari and Daina Mabunda

Cross-cultural translation and complexity, both in form and content, provide a rich basis for this exhibition by three Durban-based artists. As the media release states: "Each shows in her own way that beautiful objects happen at the interface between art and crafts."

Venue: Standard Bank Gallery, Albany Museum

Handspring puppets

One of the Handspring puppets

'Episodes' - Handspring Puppets

This will probably be the festival hit with parents and children, art and theatre buffs, and everyone else who wants a bit of low-maintenance fun and fascination. 'Episodes' features puppets from the Handspring Puppet Company's legion of shows over the past years. The puppets are not only aesthetic, but technically skilled feats of kinetic engineering.

Venue: Grahamstown Gallery, Albany Museum

'Re-Constitution: An artists' collaboration'

This show features artists' responses to leather-bound volumes of the Statutes of the Union of South Africa. Artists Mark Haywood, Mark Hipper, Greg Kerr, Penny Siopis, Dominic Thorburn, Clive van den Berg, Mark Wilby and Gavin Younge were each invited to take one of the volumes, which entrenched the laws of the old regime, and transform it into a work of art.

Venue: Rhodes Art School Gallery

Hylton Nel

Hylton Nel

Hylton Nel retrospective

The work of über-ceramicist Hylton Nel, who is based in Bethulie on the shores of the Gariep Dam, provides the provocative sub-text for the Festival 2001 Craftart theme: Feats of Clay. Nel will facilitate workshops and talks on the creative use of the clay which abounds in the Grahamstown district.

Venue: Observatory Museum

'Riches of Africa' - Gold jewellery competition

Gold is celebrated in AngloGold's exhibition of the 22/23 carat gold jewellery designed by the winners of the eponymously titled competition, where craftsmen designed jewellery based on African textiles.

Venue: Ntsikana Gallery, Monument

'African Theatre Today'

Prof Eckhard Breitinger shows documentary photographs tracking the highs and lows of South African performing artists, dramatists and directors both within and beyond the borders during the 1990s.

Venue: Monument foyer

Obie Oberholzer

Obie Oberholzer
Colour photograph

Obie Oberholzer: Photographs

Grahamstown local Obie Oberholzer is one of those "the festival wouldn't be complete without him" artists. Landscape and travelogue are the photographic subjects this time round.

Venue: Alumni Gallery, Albany Museum

Women of the Township

Women of the Township

'Women of the Township, Women of the Village'

Initiated by British photographer Sarah Ainslie, who attended the festival in 2000, this project features a group of Grahamstown township women who have taken photographs of themselves, their homes and families along with similar images created by women in an English village.

Venue: Atherstone Room, Monument

Linda Jones

Linda Jones
'Inside: Looking In'
Installation view at NSA Gallery

'Inside: Looking In' - Installation by Linda Jones

Linda Jones's installation, presented in collaboration with Durban's NSA Gallery, where it was first shown, explores inner spaces - both the private interiors of the body (seen as "repulsive and contaminated") and domestic spaces ("clean and safe") - through photographs, video, sculpture and installation. The exhibition includes the recreation of a typical "bourgeois" lounge, complete with dirty-pink carpet, coffee tables and reproduction Victorian chairs covered in pink velour, juxtaposed on the walls with images and video footage of bodily orifices, "bringing to light the unseen and unseemly, the repulsive and hidden".

Venue: Carinus Art Center, Beaufort Street, Grahamstown

     See Reviews

Brent Meistre

Brent Meistre
Class (detail), 2001

Brent Meistre and Dina Zoe Belluigi

At the Power Station on the periphery of Grahamstown, Brent Meistre exhibits 'Rode', first shown at Cape Town's Cold Room Gallery. This is a photographic record of detritus "inscribed" into the tarmac of the road: "The journey becomes an internal one, the tar a claustrophobic psychic space." Meistre also exhibits a site-specific installation in the classroom of the Carinus Art Centre, where Meistre studied art during his school years. class____ explores the way in which words are taught in relation to images, and the inadequacy of language in its task of "witnessing, memorialising, reading" the world around us - and specifically the urban environment of Grahamstown.

Dina Zoe Belluigi's installation 'mneme', at the Power Station, comprises photographs, drawings and paintings that deal with the relation between memory and identity, and memory and representation. "Familiar images of family photographs are covered and uncovered, concealed and revealed, in an attempt to grasp the past that consistently escapes these attempts - showing the relation between painting and memory as the loss or absence of the thing represented."

     See Reviews

Greg Schultz

Greg Schultz
Guardian I and II
Oil on canvas

Greg Schultz - 'Landscape'

Greg Schultz's solo exhibition takes as its subject the ecologically sensitive estuaries of the south-eastern Cape and their diverse fauna and flora. The artist has focused on landscape for more than a decade, but his recent works represent a new direction, making use of natural materials in geometrical and sacred shapes, typography, maps, directional arrows and spiked protrusions from the canvas.

Venue: Albany Museum

Nigel Mullins

Nigel Mullins
'Hopeful Monsters' 2000-01
Installation view
Oil on canvas

Nigel Mullins - 'Hopeful Monsters'

Last seen at the Hänel Gallery in Cape Town (see June Reviews), Nigel Mullins' monsters are both comic and manic. Here Mullins exhibits a series of lithographs produced in collaboration with Fine Line Press.

Venue: St Peters Annexe

Maureen Quin

Maureen Quin
'Ballet in Bronze' series

Maureen Quin - 'Ballet in Bronze'

Bronze sculptor Maureen Quin, who hails from Alexandria in the Eastern Cape, is something of a fixture at the festival. This year she exhibits six ballet pieces - graceful, elongated figures of which the artist says: "Instead of conventional prettiness and anatomy, I concentrated on motion and space." Also on view will be three life-size Cape minstrel figures destined for the Grand West casino complex in Goodwood, Cape Town.

Venue: Rennie Hall, Albany Museum