UKZN’s Vice-Chancellor Visits PMB Visual Arts Studios
Greeting students and members of the public, including Pietermaritzburg Tatham Art Gallery’s Mrs Kobie Venter along the way, Dr van Jaarsveld commented on how the visual and performing arts in South Africa were moving into the sphere of big business this century. ‘Universities are all about providing a landscape of creative environments,’ he said.
Escorted by Academic Leaders Professor Mbongeni Malaba, Dr Nicola Jones, the CVA’s Professor Ian Calder, and Acting Dean for the School of Arts Professor Donal McCracken, the VC was taken on a tour of Pietermaritzburg campus’ Jack Heath Art Gallery, the Ceramics, Painting and Printmaking studios, as well as Digital Art’s Computer Lab and the Media Studies’ Film facilities.
Beginning in the CVA’s Ceramics Studio, van Jaarsveld was introduced to the intricacies of ceramics and the technicalities involved in glazing and firing sculptures and pots, before moving to the Jack Heath Gallery.
Treated to the Gallery’s Works in Progress exhibition, the Vice-Chancellor was
enthusiastically welcomed by Visual Arts postgraduates studying Art History, Ceramics, Painting, Printmaking and Drawing, and expressed his appreciation of the artworks produced by staff and postgraduate students that feature prominently in South African art museums and galleries, and in contemporary exhibitions around the globe.
The group was shown Digital Art’s cutting-edge AppleMac studio by Lecturer and Programme Co-ordinator, Mrs Michelle Stewart. Stewart proceeded to highlight KwaZulu-Natal’s only animation studio with a demonstration of their latest 3-D modelling tools, pointing out that they hoped to begin using 3-D printers to complement their 2-D productions in the near future.
Van Jaarsveld ended his tour with a look at Media Studies’ postgraduate film studio and a short video produced by its students. The Vice-Chancellor was impressed with the quality of the video, especially in relation to the inter-disciplinary project involving Media Studies and the College of Agriculture, Science and Engineering. He suggested that UKZN’s Visual Arts could raise their profiles even more in the future by also becoming an integral part of UKZN’s in-house promotion team, in partnership with UKZN Corporate Relations.
Adding to this, Professor McCracken said: ‘The Creative and Visual Arts as well as Digital Media are poised for change. Increasingly they will be looking to new ways of advancing the various inter-related disciplines and reaching out to find new opportunities in society. We have commenced an investigation into a phased programme of modernisation of equipment and facilities as well as curriculum changes linked to an increase in student admissions.’