Monday, September 30
Have been back from Europe two weeks now, spending the last five days of my trip in Brussels, where I will have a solo show in the Centre d'Art Contemporain in Brussels next April. In the company of gallery director Fabienne Dumont, was able to see the different spaces available, and think what work should go up where. Also went to the opening of a stunning new museum of contemporary art about 100 ks out of Brussels, Le Grand Hornu, converted from an old red brick charcoal factory, with a new contemporary wing added. Had never realised before how language divides Belgium - this museum is the initiative of the French speaking artistic community.
Another day, I visit the grandiloquently named Royal Museum for Central Africa in Tervuren, a monument to the shameful colonial history of Belgium in the Congo. Apart from all the ethnic objets d'art, the original trunks and suitcases of Stanley and Livingstone are on display here, together with other intriguing daily objects used by Africa's best known explorers. And then there are the galleries full of motheaten animals in dioramas.
Would have liked to have met up with Kendell Geers in Brussels, but he is out of town for an opening in Italy. I do spend some time with Angolan artist Fernando Alvim, and get a tour of his exhibition space, Camouflage, an important alternative presence for artists in Brussels.
Tuesday, October 1
Rush like mad to finish editing the October issue of ArtThrob in time to leave for the airport to go up to Johannesburg, and from there to Pretoria. Leave lots of last minute bits behind for my temporary German intern, Lisa Schmidt, to deal with.
Wednesday, October 2
Spend the day meeting with Margriet Leemhuis and Charles Mabaso of the Royal Netherlands Embassy in Pretoria. Public Eye, the artists' organisation of which I am a member, are part of a committee which allocates RNE funding to cultural projects in the Western Cape (not our own, of course) and this is a reportback meeting.
Thursday, October 4
One reason I am glad to be up in Gauteng is that I have the opportunity to see and photograph a piece from the 'From the Inside' series which has been blown up to enormous size and hung on the old Turbine Building in Newtown, downtown Johannesburg, as part of the Art City project. Take some close ups, then decide the best position would be from the top of the highway which sweeps past Newtown. In the morning, driving along the highway, I noticed some construction workers working in a fenced off bit. A new exit ramp is planned to come down right into the Newtown cultural precinct, site of the Johannesburg Biennales, and the work is well under way. Find the site office to get permission to climb up to the construction site. Handing me a hard hat, the site manager points to the way up: a narrow ladder of steps twisting up scaffolding about four stories high. Oh well. The photo had better be worth it. Pity the sky is so overcast.
Friday, October 5
Meeting with Linda Givon of the Goodman Gallery. Have come to ask if Linda could possibly face handling yet another artists' auction - this one in aid of ArtThrob. So many artists have offered to help the website survive if they can. We come up with a much better idea - the launch of Editions for ArtThrob. Modelled on the Parkett Editions idea, this will involve inviting the country's top artists to make a special print or a multiple for ArtThrob, which will then be sold through the website. Sophie Perryer and I have discussed this idea before - but the logistics of handling the money, the proper professional packing and dispatch of the prints and the business side have always seemed overwhelming. With enormous generosity, Linda offers the support and services of the Goodman Gallery on this side of it, as a sponsorship. I am thrilled and excited. It could solve our financial problems, and will also be such a cool thing to do - to build up this new collection of work.
Saturday, October 6
Back in Cape Town in time to catch the morning opening of a show at the Bell-Roberts - Jo Ractliffe, showing work made during her residency in Switzerland last year, and Swiss artist Markus Schwander, a Greatmore Studios artist in residence. Jo's installation is a small room construction, with a white bed and white blankets and set in the wall, a video screen which shows her "snow" video - the essential kitsch but beautiful and sometimes sad picture postcard experience of passing through snowy landscapes. Schwander, whose first impressions of this country included the images of guard dogs on boards outside suburban homes, and the lushness of flowers, has made a series of rubber stamps of flower images. These he has attached to dog leads of differing lengths, hung on one wall. Each flower image has been repeatedly stamped on the wall in the orbit allowed by the dog lead.
Wednesday, October 9
Drive out to Stellenbosch for the opening of the 'Outpost 11' show at the University Art Gallery. Curated by Virginia MacKenny and the NSA's Storm van Rensburg , this gives a Western Cape audience an opportunity to see work by some of the top KwaZulu Natal artists like Andries Botha and Greg Streak. Virginia gives an impressively coherent opening speech, then it's off to the Sasol Gallery to have a look at Jeremy Wafer's show, which opened the night before. Jeremy has a way of making all kinds of different work on varying themes, but still marking it with his particular sensibility. Here, this has extended to completely deconstructing and rearranging the rectangular museum exhibition spaces with diagonally placed screens. Paul Edmunds will review the show for ArtThrob in November. Supper with Shirene Dovey of the gallery and all the Natal artists at a Greek restaurant.