A beautiful feast for the eyes

2011-08-30 00:00

THE well-known Pucketty Farm Stall that provides homemade treats for visitors to the Underberg area, has a new addition to its attractions … a feast for the eyes.

A simple, wooden extension houses the artwork of the Southern Drakensberg Art Society (SDAS), and while you may ­imagine that the art may be as simple as a jar of marmalade or as rough as a loaf of farm bread, you would be mistaken. The ­variety and skill of the artwork is not be to underestimated.

It does have a grand sign that pronounces the entrance as The Gallery, and once you step inside you will be quite astonished by the quality of the work of the ­local Underberg artists, which is ­extremely good. Perhaps it is ­because they are surrounded by beauty, and they have many sources of inspiration.

Intricate patterns of the hides of Nguni cattle may dominate one frame, while on the other side the wide eyes of a child stare out. The camaraderie and gentle support of the art group helps to keep them painting.

Weekly, they gather at the ­local bowling club, and they ­discuss their ideas for paintings, offer advice and spend hours ­painting. The youngest members are in their early sixties, and the oldest member is in her eighties.

What is interesting is that their work is so varied. This is not a motley collection of ­mountain-landscape pictures.

Yes, there are a few paintings of the mighty Drakensberg peaks, but the skill with which they have been painted is impressive.

Serina Shaw, who owns ­Pucketty Farm, is so pleased that her stall was chosen as the home for The Gallery, as she believes it is a great asset.

Shaw has always dabbled in water colours, and illustrated her book with beautiful pictures of farm animals. But she was the one who was instrumental in pushing her fellow artists to join forces.

She said: “We would hear about art lessons in Pietermaritzburg by Marion Townsend, and we would take turns in ­driving down to attend. We were all artists and had dabbled in art, but we needed to experiment and push ourselves.” So the group of artists schlepped to ­Pietermaritzburg weekly.

Local artist Liz Campbell, who retired in Underberg, had ­attended many workshops with prolific artists in Johannesburg and abroad, and she decided to teach some of the techniques she had learned.

Soon there was a cross­pollination of ideas. The art club was born, and has currently expanded to 16 members.

The Gallery exhibits the work of all 16 SDAS members, and they donate a portion of the sales back to the non-profit society to keep The Gallery going. Last year, it had a turn-over of nearly R40 000.

For bargain hunters who ­favour original art for their homes, this is one destination you should not forget. Artwork without frames are priced reasonably, and to buy a work of art is to feed the soul of the art club.

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