Back to our roots: cultivating creativity on the Midlands Meander

2015-09-29 06:00


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THE heart of the Midlands Meander has always been its artists and crafters, since its founding 30 years ago. The vision of the Midlands Meander Association is to increase the number and diversity of its artists and crafters by providing opportunities for local artists and crafters to join the Meander family and benefit from the strong marketing platform.

Two Midlands Meander projects are helping the popular tourism destination achieve this goal - the Midlands Meander Artist Subvention Fund, and the Midlands Meander Emerging Artist/Crafter Project.

The Midlands Meander Artist Subvention Fund

This year, the Midlands Meander is proud to announce the launch of the Midlands Meander Artist Subvention Fund, a project which aims to double the number of financially secure artist members of the Midlands Meander by 2020 - and to ensure that artist businesses are sustainable.

It was a handful of artists and crafters who conceptualised the Midlands Meander in 1985, and the Midlands Meander Association recognises the need to foster artistic endeavours on the popular tourism route.

Funded by Nedbank Arts Affinity and The Arts andamp; Culture Trust, applications are opened to artists living and working in the Midlands Meander (existing Midlands Meander members and new artist members) who are unable to afford the full Midlands Meander annual membership fees. This year, subvention funding was awarded to ceramic artist Astrid Dahl and fine artist Cindy Powell, both acclaimed local artists in their respective media.

Astrid manipulates the weightiness and elasticity of matte, bone-white clay into twisting, delicate shapes of the botanical world; and Cindy Powell paints mainly in oils, her choice of subject matter (mainly Nguni cattle and Midlands landscapes) depicting her love for the environment in which she lives.

and#034;I am really excited about being a recipient of the subvention funding and training because of the opportunities it offers me. For instance, the marketing of me as an artist is more than I could ever do myself. The opportunities offered are priceless, and the training is invaluable. Itand#039;s just really fantastic knowing that there is a support system behind me,and#034; Cindy says.

She adds: and#034;I think itand#039;s really important to foster the arts on the Midlands Meander because it encourages tourists and visitors to come back time and time again. This, in turn, creates an income for the artists and creates more work. Furthermore, the arts bring and#039;soul and substanceand#039; to a community. Iand#039;m honoured to be part of it.and#034;

The Midlands Meander Emerging Artist/Crafter Project.

With the generous support of the N3 Toll Concession (N3TC), the Midlands Meander launched its Emerging Artist/Crafter Project in 2014. This Project seeks to bring previously disadvantaged artists/crafters with a high standard of work into the Meander family every year.

This project aims to use the resources of the Midlands Meander brand to provide talented, previously disadvantaged artists with marketing expertise to which they otherwise would not have had access. In addition, they participate in a three-year accredited business-skills training programme and benefit from ongoing business mentoring.

Last year, Siyabonga Duma and the Impumelelo Bead Artists were nominated by members of the Midlands Meander for their high standard of work and were chosen by a selection committee of established Midlands Meander artists and crafters.

Siyabonga Dumaand#039;s work is functional - finely-crafted furniture and wooden artefacts. Sought-after, he creates bespoke work. Internationally acclaimed, the Impumelelo Beaders create exquisitely detailed beaded portraits, landscapes and wildlife images as well as wearable art and collectable items.

In 2015, three new nominees are undergoing mentorship and training with the intention that they will join the Midlands Meander as members in 2016.

Contact: www.midlandsmeander.co.za; info@midlandsmeander.co.za; 033 330 8195. - Supplied

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