Exploring 'out of the box'

2009-04-14 00:00

ART lovers are in for a treat when they visit Out of the Box, a new exhibition being staged by University of KwaZulu-Natal students at the Jack Heath Gallery at the Centre for Visual Arts in Ridge Road, Pietermaritzburg.

Organised by the students, the exhibition offers a wide variety of work, from paintings to ceramics and digital art.

Artists taking part include: Louise Hall, Sirola Parsuram, Natalie Fossey, Meryl Nobin, Fahmeeda Omar, Tania Kuhl, Susan Gray, Nic Crooks, Sharon Weaving, Susie Dwyer, Kim Bagley, Leanne Frisinger, Lee Garakara, Linda Jones, Siobhan O’Reagain, Ross Passmoor, Rifka Kirsten, Kim Forfar, and David Buchler.

Hall, who is exhibiting a work called In Passing 2008 (oil and gesso) in the show, is looking forward to the show, particularly as she is doing an exhibition-based PhD at the university.

The long-time Pietermaritzburg resident, who considers herself a working artist, completed her

Masters in fine art cum laude in 2007. Her work, mainly painting and drawing, is figurative and explores the human condition of transition and impermanence.

Hall sees her paintings as giant drawings, and is presently interested in the role of drawing as a regenerative and reflective component in art making.

Another painter taking part in the exhibition is Pietermaritzburg-based Tania Kühl, a Masters in fine arts student, who works with oil and acrylics on board and canvas. She often includes found objects, like fabric or leaves and even toilet paper, in her work to provide added texture.

Kuhl, who will be showing two large paintings, said of her work: “I take pictures of old neglected buildings. I am fascinated by the textures of the peeling paint and the fact that they hold memories as they were once occupied by people.”

Commenting on the exhibition, she said: “There is a large variety of mediums and subject matter, so it should be really interesting.”

Fellow Masters student, printmaker Natalie Fossey, specialises in creating one-layer lino cuts based on images captured on film of people and environments.

The artist, who took second place in the prestigious Start The Nivea Art Award last year and is currently competing in the Absa Atelier competition, said that studying art was not in her original plans.

“I didn’t have any art experience before university. I did media and communications [at university] and was bored, so I did art as an elective and ended up changing my whole degree,” she said.

Another student looking forward to the exhibition is Pietermaritzburg’s Fahmeeda Omar. A ceramicist who works mostly in porcelain, her works are predominantly hand -built. “I draw inspiration mostly from nature,” she says, “especially early spring leaves on trees and the images I have seen in Karl Blossfeldt’s book, Artforms in Nature.”

The former Pietermaritzburg Girls’ High School pupil initially studied travel and tourism, but soon realised that she wanted to work with her hands and she attributes her decision to do ceramics to the celebrated artist, Juliet Armstrong.

“I love working with my hands, the shapes and forms are so relaxing and give you such peace.”

Asked what it felt like to be taking part in her first-ever exhibition she said: “I’m very excited — nervous but excited. Hopefully we’ll have a good turnout.”

Also on show is the fascinating work of Lee Garakara, who is doing his Masters (specialising in animation). The former Zimbawean is fascinated by machines and his work in the exhibition showcases that interest. “I’m having conversations with machines, asking questions like, ‘Who made you?’ and ‘What do you do?’” he explains.

Initially Garakara looked at individual machines, for example sewing machines, but then expanded his research to encompass the machines of the Industrial Revolution which mass-produced items. He then drew images showing the detail of the machines, scanned the images into the computer and then reconstructed and reinvented the images.

“What you get is a hybrid, a new machine,” he said. “It’s like a satire on the modern age of technology. These machines are not supposed to produce, rather it’s me pushing boundaries. Some take on human-like figures, but they’re essentially useless. They’re just things, intimidating but harmless.”

Ultimately, Garakara animates the images and through his work explores what these interesting creations could be doing.

• Out of the Box can be seen at the Jack Heath Gallery at the Centre for Visual Art at the UKZN campus, Ridge Road in Pietermaritzburg until April 24. Gallery hours: 9 am to 4 pm. Admission is free.

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