Centre for Visual Art hosts 30th Annual Art Historians Conference
UKZN’s Centre for Visual Art (CVA) on the Pietermaritzburg campus hosted the 30th Annual Art Historians Conference which featured a staff and postgraduate art exhibition in the Jack Heath Gallery.
The exhibition was curated by MAFA-R candidate at the CVA, Ms Anda Dodo.
The theme of the Conference was Power and Visual Culture with research papers being delivered by art historians from all over South Africa.
Conference sessions included reports on research findings about the vested power in visual culture, mass culture, pedagogies, and museums and their mediation role.
Dr Anthony Downey, Author and Director of MA Contemporary Art at Sotheby’s Institute of Art in London, delivered the keynote address.
Works by staff artists included three by Ms Faye Spencer from her Office Politics installation series - His Tiny Eye, Daily Dose and Early Retirement - which were completed in oil and mixed media.
‘These pieces speak of both the idiosyncratic and typical behaviors of people in the workspace, and of dynamics within large groups of individuals, of power relationships, plays for territory and reference the disturbing - sometimes quirky - interactions between individuals with varying agendas,’ said Spencer.
Dr Louise Hall’s Becoming XVII, which forms part of an installation of works on paper, was also on show, while digital artist, Ms Michelle Stewart, exhibited stills from her animation, the creative component for her PhD (under examination).
Senior Research Associate, Professor Juliette Leeb du Toit, displayed her piece, Not All Those who Wander are Lost, while Ms Michelle Rall exhibited Shattered Landscapes, which explores the devastation of the landscape as a result of war and the destruction of the environment due to human activity.
Shroud, a work by Professor Ian Calder, an internationally renowned ceramicist, was also on display.
Postgraduate student Ms Jessica Steytler presented her artwork titled, “The Bride”, which interrogates the perceived boundaries between “art” and “craft”, while exploring the potential meanings embodied by the media of porcelain and fabric.
Student Mr Rory Klopper presented his work titled MANtis which deals with his anxiety regarding his personal identity as a concept in flux (Who am I?).
Students Ms Caroline Birch and Ms Natasha Hawley also exhibited their works.
Birch’s work, Landscape, is a reference, through the unreality of solid matter, to a shared and ubiquitous space inhabited by all. ‘What appears to be solid is essentially space and energy. Space becomes a metaphor for inter-connectedness, and thus breaches the (perceived) boundaries between identities - individual, gender, cultural,’ she said.
Hawley exhibited her ceramic vessels which she creates through deconstruction and re-assembly, stylized responses and using elements to create patterns thus taking form as a three dimensional collage.
Asked about the exhibition and conference, Spencer said: ‘The event allows our students to showcase their work and provides an opportunity to hear and consider ideas about power in its visual manifestation and theories relating to how it is expressed or countered.’
Work by postgraduate students included:
• Ms Paula Hulley’s My Armageddon, which explores the self and shadow in relation to her inward journey and life transitions
• Ms Jo Smart’s Fevered Dreams, exploring culture and identity
• Mr Modisa Motsomi’s Threshold, examining diaspora and identity
• Ms Amanda Bucknall’s Backwaters of Evolution, examining the notion of power and visual culture
• Ms Roz Cryer’s sketch of Izzy, an ‘exercise in finding a balance between spirit, spontaneity and likeness’
• Mr Muzi Gigaba’s two pieces, Ligcwala izibungu and Manyoni, displaying his interest in the figure and an exploration of current value systems
• Ms Anda Dodo’s ceramic bowl collection allowing her to document memories of her youth and upbringing
• Ms Nina Calder’s work Recollect, which played with the concept of forgetting versus remembering
• Eight individual pieces by Ms Fahmeeda Omar’s which were hand coiled using miniature threads of clay.
Melissa Mungroo and Merusha Naidoo