Artistic expressions of hope

2012-07-19 00:00

THE work of Durban artist Zane Lang, who is battling cancer, can currently be viewed in the main gallery at artSPACE durban.

Titled Encounters, and running until July 28, Lang’s work is a mix of powerful symbolic landscapes and multimedia pieces, which capture scenes of Botswana’s desert scrub, isolated homes, thorn trees and rocks, and represent his feelings about leaving the familiarity of Durban for Gabarone, where he lived alone for 10 years.

Feelings of isolation and the idea of barriers being erected between himself and others come through in the works.

As an artist, Lang felt a need to isolate himself and to be completely immersed in the images he was making.

“I don’t think I was trying to keep the world at bay,” Lang told Weekend ­Witness earlier this year. “I was trying to find myself, and living and working in Botswana allowed me to throw myself into a position to do that … It was a beautiful experience, but also a bit of a lonely one.”

Lang’s works, which are both complex and thought-provoking, encourage you to give them more than just a cursory look. Among the details hidden within his canvasses are images of dung beetles, which the artist says represent hope and faith. “The dung beetle is the farmer of the bush. He’s the one who plants seeds and then they grow, renewing life,” he says.

Also at the gallery are paintings by Liz Speight. Titled Thembelihle = We have Hope, the exhibition commemorates the rich teaching experience Speight had when she volunteered at Thembelihle School in Howick.

The school, which is based at the Methodist Church, was started by Joyce Ntuli in containers in Kwa Mevana. When Ntuli was told at the end of 2010 that she had to vacate the premises, the mother of one of the pupils in the class approached her church to help.

“They organised the purchase of Howick And District Care for the Aged (Hadca) House, which was for sale as Hadca had moved to new premises donated by a deceased estate. The Methodist Church built classrooms and ablution blocks, and Thembelihle School opened in January 2010,” Speight said.

While teaching art at the school, she took photographs of the children as a way to memorise their names. But over time, these photographs came to serve a much wider purpose.

“Apart from being an affirmation of themselves that each child received when I stuck their images on their art books, those images confronted me with the reality of each person. I realised how beautiful each child was, and how much potential was there. I could see their ­history in their faces, emotions that were brought on by certain situations,” Speight said.

“I spent a year teaching those children art. They learnt a bit about art. I learnt a lot about teaching. This exhibition is to commemorate a very rich experience. It is also a tribute to each individual involved.”

artSPACE durban is at 3 Millar Road, Durban. Gallery hours are Monday to Friday from 9 am to 5 pm, and 9 am to 2 pm on Saturdays.

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