People and places

2009-05-06 00:00

THE issue of leaving a childhood home for new places and the sense of dislocation that can arise from that are explored in a new exhibition, Settling In, at the Tatham Art Gallery.

Pietermaritzburg-based printmaker, Vulindlela Nyoni, who moved to the city from Chilimanzi, Zimbabwe, 15 years ago, said the inspiration for the works, which can be seen in the Schreiner Gallery from today until June 21, was drawn from his own experience.

“This show is about leaving home and finding new places and about people leaving and finding new spaces,” he said. “I have tried to find new ways of showing what space means to me, what place means to me and the thoughts that come to mind when you leave places.

“Perceptions of travel and moving from one place to another have informed my life. This movement is reflected in the works on show — legs which are standing still or walking, chairs which seem to be moving through space, and bags which are being packed and unpacked.”

Nyoni added: “I have used the sky and clouds as a metaphor. We are all familiar with the ground and getting into a car and moving … but displacing oneself through air is something different. I looked at the sky as a focal point for that way of thinking.

“I have also been working around the issue of disembodiment — there are clear instances in the work showing separation from something, which is implied by the brokenness of limbs. I am trying to say that we believe we are complete but we are actually in a strange state of flux in our lives — moving, changing, shifting.”

The Tatham show — which will be opened by Michael Lambert from the UKZN Pietermaritzburg classics department at 6 pm tonight — is Nyoni’s second solo exhibition in Pietermaritzburg and his third this year. He has also exhibited at artSPACE Berlin in Germany and in the printmaking gallery at Arkansas State University in the United States.

Asked why he had chosen printmaking over other forms of art, he said: “The process [of making a print] slows things down for me. I am able to move away from the work. I can spend an hour mixing a colour and while I’m doing that I’m thinking. I have real time to reflect on what it is I am trying to do with the image.

“It’s also a great medium to work in — you share space and machinery with other artists. People have a social way of working. And you never know what is going to happen with it all.”

Nyoni, who lectures the next generation of artists in printmaking, drawing and photography at the University of KwaZulu-Natal fine arts department, said that being a lecturer has opened his eyes to the way other people work with prints.

He added: “I believe in keeping the traditions of printmaking going but I also like to find new ways to see how prints can be viewed or made.”

• The Tatham Art Gallery is open from 10 am to 5 pm Tuesday to Sunday. Phone 033 392 2801.

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