Supporting local artists

2008-03-27 00:00

Margaret von Klemperer

BASANI Art and Craft Centre in Hyslop Road is more than just a place to browse and buy local crafts. It is a vital base and resource for a number of young artists who live and work in and around the city.

It can be tough commuting into the city with artworks and materials — some taxi drivers insist that if the works are large, an extra seat has to be paid for. But the market for art is in the city, not the townships, and artists need somewhere to store their work — and to meet potential buyers. Basani offers that, and a place where artists and crafters can bounce ideas off each other.

Basani has limited accommodation, and the organisation offers this to one or two artists who, at any given time, really need a place to stay. At the moment, Mthokozizi Myeze and Shokwakhe Mngadi are in residence. Both are artists on their way up — Myeze is a portrait painter who has shown his work at Art in the Park and has had an exhibition at the Tatham Art Gallery, while Mngadi paints buildings, including several well-known sites around the city. The Tatham bought his painting — which incorporates electric lighting — of a 2010 soccer stadium from last year’s Echo bazaar and is currently showing it on the New Acquisitions exhibition at the gallery.

Others based at Basani are fabric artist “Trompies” Ndlovu, who is currently working on a series of “Dreams of Africa” tablecloths; Siyabonga Sikosana, well known for his paintings of townships and one of the artists being celebrated in the current Edendale Excels exhibition at the Tatham; Siyabonga Xaba, a versatile and skilled artist; ceramists Jabulani Mhlabini and Thandiwe Ntuli, who also own the Ababumbi Arts and Ceramics Studio behind the Winston Churchill Theatre; and wire and bead workers Innocent Jappie and Fortune Dhlamini.

According to Basani founder Betty Naude and centre manager Zazi Shange, all the Basani artists are happy to be commissioned to produce special pieces and also enjoy interacting with potential buyers. Overseas buyers who find their way to Basani are particularly keen to talk to the artists and hear their stories as well as buy their work.

It is hard to make a living from art or craft. Veteran city art teacher Val Maggs has an arrangement with Basani and some of the artists attend her classes. The centre helps where it can with materials, and serves a hearty midday meal to those who are working there, but there is always a need for donations of materials and equipment.

For visitors, coffee, tea and muffins are available at Basani, or lunch with an ethnic flavour. And there is always work to browse, both in the work-in-progress gallery where those who work at the centre exhibit, as well as in the front of the centre where there is a range of pots and other crafts.

For more information, phone Zazi Shange at 033 342 3697 or at 076 962 9981, or visit 15 Hyslop Road. Basani is open from 9 am to 5 pm, Tuesday to Sunday (closed on Mondays).

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