Celebrating community upliftment through the arts

2012-02-07 00:00

LAST year the Caversham Centre for Artists (formerly Caversham Press), which is based at Caversham in the KwaZulu-Natal midlands, celebrated its 25th anniversary with a large-scale exhibition in Johannesburg and a touring exhibition, which included a stop at last year’s National Arts Festival in Grahams­town.

Now it’s the turn of local residents to enjoy a retrospective of works by artists like William Kentridge, Magkabo Helen Sebidi and the late Robert Hodgins and Gabisile Nkosi.

Twenty Five Years of Caversham: People, Prints and Process, and Hats’ Off! 25 years: Linocuts from Caversham both open at the Tatham Art Gallery in Chief Albert Luthuli (Commercial) Street, Pietermaritzburg, on Thursday at 6 pm, and run until April 8.

The exhibition, Twenty Five Years at Caversham: People, Prints and Process, illustrates the centre’s main role in the upliftment and nurturing of fine arts in the country, with an emphasis on printmaking.

The Caversham Centre was founded in 1985 by Malcolm Christian, and the exhibition showcases over 100 works by more than 70 artists created during this time.

The exhibition also illustrates Christian’s belief in human creativity, which is summed up in the Nguni word masabelaneni (let us share). He has shared this creativity, technical expertise, and inventiveness with artists who have worked at the centre since its inception — and through masabelaneni, the centre is passing on these skills to the youth of KwaZulu-Natal.

Asked why it was so important for the exhibition to be staged in Pietermaritzburg, Christian said: “I guess it is the old adage: home is where the heart is.

“So much of my history is embedded here in Pietermaritzburg. I taught printmaking at the University of Natal Pietermaritzburg from 1977 to 1980, and returned from Wits to lecture here again in 1985, the year I started the Caversham Press.

“In some ways, having Julia Meintjes opening the exhibitions reflects this. She was one of my students, and after graduating she worked at the Tatham prior to taking up a position at the Johannesburg Art Gallery. She became Caversham Press’s first marketing representative and remains a very close friend, curating our first component of the 25-year celebrations — Hats Off!.

“Coming home is about people and ­relationships. In putting the exhibition together, the main focus was on colla­boration, and, therefore, representing as many artists as possible became ­essential — this, only limited by space.

“The very nature of artistic collaboration requires focused space, time and interaction, which has meant that Caversham Press has gained the reputation of being a retreat not open to the public. So the Tatham exhibition provides a glimpse of this process through the range of works on display. Above all, it is special to recognise those who have made my life what it is.”

Hats Off! — 25 years: Lino Cuts from Caversham celebrates 25 years of Caversham Press, Educational Trust and Centre for artists and writers.

Caversham is involved in many facets of creativity using literal and visual ­media through its residency and community-based CreACTive programme, which aims to make contributions towards artistic growth within and beyond South African borders.

The exhibition features linoprints made by local and international artists to celebrate Caversham Centre’s educational role in community development through the arts.

• Visitors to the Tatham will be able to enjoy a walkabout of the exhibitions from 2 pm to 3 pm on February 15.

There will also be a series of lino-cut workshops from 10 am to 4 pm on February 14, February 16 and February 17. The centre’s artists will teach various aspects of printmaking, using lino block and references to works on display.

As space is limited, the workshop will only accommodate 10 people per day. For more information and to book a space at the workshop, phone Thulani or Pinky at 033 392 2801.

Safe parking is available at the Legislature side of the gallery.

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