Exhibition: Exquisite ceramics on show at the Tatham Art Gallery

2011-11-17 00:00

THE ceramics room is one of my favourite corners in the Tatham Art Gallery in Pietermaritzburg – and with a new exhibition taking pride of place in the space, it’s well worth visiting.

Contemplation: Animal — Mineral — Vegetable, which runs until 2012, features a number of the gallery’s new acquisitions, sourced from around KwaZulu-Natal for the recent Meeting The Makers: Contemporary Craft of KwaZulu-Natal exhibition.

Alongside these home-grown works — which are made from either clay, wood or bone — are ceramics purchased from Katherine Glenday, Ralph Johnson and Ian Garrett, who are all from the Cape.

Curator of the exhibition Kobie Venter, explained that while the origins of any collection of objects on our planet can usually be traced to three basic materials — animal, mineral and vegetable — categories can become blurred when one needs, for example, to decide into which category charcoal, shell, horn or plastic fits.

She is also hoping that visitors will be encouraged to make comparisons between the cultural origins of some of the works and how many cross-cultural pieces there are.

“A further aspect to explore could be the original intention of the maker, whether it be functional, decorative or symbolic,” Venter said.

“On our recent field trips into KwaZulu-Natal, the Tatham staff members became very aware of the resources available to artists and crafters in the geographical areas where they lived. The rural potters have access to clay deposits, river water and aloe leaves for fuel.

“City dwellers have electricity for their kilns, and can import ingredients such as kaolin for porcelain. Wood carvers from remote areas use indigenous timber, with some exceptions.

“Because this is Africa, rural artists and crafters often work with rough materials or unsophisticated tools, but the results are frequently exquisite, such as the horn vessels by Willis Nxumalo and the wooden rickshaw carrier by Vusumuzi Mpungose.”

Visit Contemplation: Animal — Mineral — Vegetable at the Tatham Art Gallery in Chief Albert Luthuli (Commercial) Street, Pietermaritzburg from Tuesday to Sunday between 10 am and 5 pm. Inquiries: 033 392 2801.


• Don’t forget to visit the Friends of Tatham Art Gallery’s (Fotag) Fabulous Picture Show, which opens in the main exhibition hall of the Tatham Art Gallery on Sunday. Place your bids for these little artistic gems, and help raise money to buy new works for the permanent collection.

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