Art of freshness

2008-10-02 08:05

The Fresh Paint Gallery, one of the most exciting recent additions to the Durban art scene, is hard to miss.

The bright green Victorian house with three spotted blue dogs on the roof is already breaking new ground in the culturally reborn suburb of Glenwood. An exciting, eclectic exhibition of work by South African women artists, entitled Live Your Dream, opened in the gallery on Wednesday night. This is the third exhibition since the gallery's July debut.

Greg May, advertising executive turned gallery owner, and the artists themselves are living their dreams. Five of the exhibitors are first timers, which is a perfect fit with May's vision of specialising in unusual and quirky pieces of art from across SA and providing a platform for emerging artists.

He has sourced fascinating “undiscovered” art, crafts and art photography during field trips extending from the far reaches of KZN to the isolated corners of the Free State.

This exhibition is named after one of the pieces by Ballito-based mixed media collage artist Fran Jex. According to May, participation in a combined exhibition like this is long overdue for this estate-agent-turned-artist, whose mixed media work in muted shades, which combines imagery, textures and words, is challenging.

Watercolours by Ann Buss of Westville and portraits and still life works by Howick's Andre Duncan are also first showings, along with an offering by ceramic and enamel artist Heidi-Marie Smallwood who is showing her jewellery for the first time.

Lea Hardwick, also from Howick, is one of the more experienced exhibitors. She'll be showing photographs of landscapes and people. May is particularly impressed by her series of evocative photographs of Himba women and some vast landscapes from northern Namibia Kaokoland/Kunene region.

Dahla Hulme and Michelle Nigrini are from the eastern Free State village of Rosendal. Hulme is a sculptor and metalworker but is exploring her talent as a photographer. For the first time, she will be exhibiting some monochromatic detailed photographs of vistas, landscapes and areas of interest - windmills, moody skies, the local church, winter scapes and bare trees - taken mostly in and around Rosendal.

Nigrini, who holds a fine arts MA, first attracted attention in 1994 when Dr Anton Rupert attended her first solo exhibition and bought almost all the paintings. She has never looked back.

May abandoned his 21-year career in the advertising industry and, with wife Lynn and business associates John Wheaton and Immins Naude, moved into selling less commercial work.

He has already amassed an enviable collection of distinctive, unusual and seldom-seen local art and is now looking to include the adjacent Victorian house into his luminous green gallery. Right now, it is something of a warehouse - a treasure trove housing some of the pieces that will appear in exhibitions.

The gallery has also been given KZN trading rights to the African Toy Shop range of handcrafted wooden toys. Created by village craftspeople throughout Africa, these distinctive toys are made from natural and recycled materials. There are also plans to keep an exclusive collection of Smallwood's jewellery.

•The Fresh Paint Gallery is at 60 Davenport Road, Glenwood. Gallery hours are 9 am to 4 pm or after hours by appointment. It is open daily, except for Sundays. However, it will be open tomorrow for the Glenwood Festival.

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