SA art at its best

2011-05-31 00:00

THE 2011 edition of Nashua Art in the Park, which gets under way tomorrow and runs until Sunday, celebrates its 49th anniversary this year.

This year’s exhibition will feature 55 artists from KwaZulu-Natal, the Eastern and Western Cape, Mpumalanga, Gauteng and the Free State, all of whom were chosen by a selection committee that turned away close to 70 artists, during its stringent validation of entries.

The listed artists will include development artist Bheki Khambule, who is appearing courtesy of the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Arts and Culture, and will use the platform to learn from other artists and meet fellow professionals.

Khambule grew up in Madlankala, outside Richards Bay, and currently lives in Glenwood, Durban. He developed a deep passion for art in Grade 4 when he won an interschool art competition, and, despite having no formal training, has managed to notch up several achievements, including a solo exhibition at the KZNSA Gallery in 2009. The show was part of his prize for winning the Nivea Art Start Award.

Khambule also participated in Zulu’s in the Karoo, a group exhibition at the Prince Albert Gallery in the Karoo in 2009, and the Living in KZN group show at the Art Space Berlin Gallery in Germany in 2009 and 2010.

He is currently a full-time member of Vulindlela Art and Design, a company dealing in art production and sales, and is doing a professional-practice course at the KZNSA Gallery under Brenton Maart.

Other artists taking part in this year’s event include:

• Marion Townsend, a member of the Watercolour Society of South Africa, who has been exhibiting at Art in the Park for the past seven years. She held her first solo exhibition at The Watercolour Café in 1995 and has participated in many group exhibitions around the country.

• Ezequiel Mabote, a Mozambican national and full-time artist at the Bat Centre in Durban. Self-taught, Mabote is skilled in print making, painting and sculpture, and has conducted several solo and group exhibitions locally, and in New York, Chicago and Dubai.

• Kelly Higgs, an old girl of St John’s Diocesan School for Girls in Pietermaritzburg, whose first solo exhibition of decorative botanical watercolours in Johannesburg was a sellout. Her love of flowers, particularly orchids, is her greatest inspiration, as well as 18th-century lithographs of birds and plants.

• Arthur Orme (94), who learnt to paint in 1943 in India and held his first exhibition with fellow-soldiers in New Delhi. He started to paint seriously in 1975 after his first visit to Art in the Park. At that time there were only 33 artists exhibiting. He considers painting in watercolour as the most challenging of all mediums.

Organised by Pietermaritzburg Tourism and staged under a grove of London plane trees on the banks of the Msunduzi River in Alexandra Park, this year’s Art in the Park is hoping to beat last year’s sales total of R1,65 million and perhaps even scale the pre-economic crisis heights of R2 million.

In addition to viewing the art on show, visitors will be entertained by the St Nicholas Steel Drum Band on Thursday and Friday, the Bear Hansen and the Chain Breakers Band, Mark Shonau (better known as ‘The Fiddler’), Jesus Alonso, Erin Fourie, Tracy Stark, Chris Jensen, Rowan Stuart and Jasper.

• Art in the Park is open daily from 10 am to 8 pm, Wednesday to Saturday, and from 9 am to 4 pm on Sunday. Tickets are R10 (children under 12 are free). No pets are allowed, except guide dogs.

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