THE SOUTH AFRICAN
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Dept. of Art & Culture’s R150m soccer art flop
With four months to go until the 2010 World Cup kicks off, hopes for an arts and culture programme to accompany the event are waning, with millions promised by the Department of Arts and Culture yet to materiPatrick Burnett Members of the art community are questioning why R150-million for soccer-related projects has not already been disbursed or, if there wasn’t money in the first place, why it was promised. Nearly 160 applications - to run projects that included festivals, exhibitions, public art and displays of new works - were made for the funding. Meanwhile, there is speculation that the money is being held up because of reports that a forensic audit of world cup funding is taking place at the department. But the DAC has denied that R150-million was promised in 2010 in the first place. Instead, the amount was to have been disbursed over three years, with R75-million slated for 2009/10, following on amounts of R20-million in 2007/2008 and R54-million in 2008/2009. DAC spokesperson Lisa Combrinck said: “I don’t know why people think this is an art bank.” She refused to provide details on the forensic audit, saying it was sub judice, but did state: “The perceived delay in issuing funds to 2010 World Cup related projects has nothing to do with the forensic audit.” She said due process was being followed in terms of DAC’s funding procedures and announcements would be made as soon as the process was finalized. In 2009, Minister Lulu Xingwane, noting that the world cup presented a “rare opportunity for us to showcase our rich cultural heritage through our craft, music and dance” established a 2010 task team which was responsible for evaluating the proposals. The task team was disbanded at the end of January and one task team member contacted by SA Art Times said the amount of money available had never been communicated. “I don’t know about the R150-million.” Meanwhile, another member of the task team, National Arts Council CEO Annabell Lebethe, said recommendations had been made
to Xingwane, but the task team had not been responsible for apportioning funds. She said the focus in selecting between 50 and 100 projects had been on less marginalized communities and the promotion of artistic excellence. Those who submitted proposals fear that time is running out. Market Theatre artistic director Malcolm Purkey said the lack of clarity made it difficult to plan. He said the end of February would be the cut-off time for receiving funding to put together their proposed programme, which involved showcasing 10 classic South African plays at the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown. “If it comes there will be a scramble and a panic,” he said. Sibikwe Art Centre artistic director Phyllis Klotz said a proposal had been submitted that would involve a partnership with Mozambique for dancers at national parks during the event, but they had not heard anything. “I have been in the NGO business for 40 years and it is getting progressively worse. One is just at a stage where one can’t even engage.” She said the centre could still do the project but would “need to know pretty soon”. Purkey said it would be “very sad” if there was no formal arts and culture programme. “We have a chance to showcase our arts and culture at the world cup. Where is the money?” Lebethe agreed that funding would have to be made available by the end of February. “If you are working backwards [from kick-off], if it doesn’t happen by the end of February then there isn’t time.”
Ndikhumbule Ngqinambi’s painting House of light, Oil on canvas. See Ndikhumbule’s profile on page 13
SA Art expression under political siege again?
“Personally, we don’t know what soccer fans want to see…but we don’t want to miss out on the opportunity. It provides the opportunity to showcase.” Combrinck said the DAC 2010 project office was processing these project applications. “We will soon announce those that have been successful. There is sufficient time for work to be done by those who will receive funds.”
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“Botha’s team was told to cease construction several weeks ago after a man in a black SUV stopped on the freeway, where the sculptures were being built from stone and steel gabions, and ordered that the work be halted – apparently because the elephants are a symbol of the IFP and Durban is an ANC city. That man was identified by the workers as John Mchunu, regional chairperson of the ANC, although Mchunu has reportedly denied this.” Read Peter Machen’s article on page 3
Newspaper rights: The newspaper reserves the right to reject any material that could be found offensive by its readers. Opinions and views expressed in the SAArt Times do not necessarily represent the offi cial viewpoint of the editor, staff or publisher, while inclusion of advertising features does not imply the newspaper’s endorsement of any business, product or service. Copyright of the enclosed material in this publication is reserved.
South African Art Times March 2010
Botha’s elephants’ fate still undecided
By Peter Machen The fate of the elephants constructed by sculptor Andries Botha and his team of workers on a freeway island in Durban remains unknown at the time of writing, although clouded with rumour. It has now been widely reported that Botha’s team was told to cease construction several weeks ago after a man in a black SUV stopped on the freeway, where the sculptures were being built from stone and steel gabions, and ordered that the work be halted – apparently because the elephants are a symbol of the IFP and Durban is an ANC city. That man was identified by the workers as John Mchunu, regional chairperson of the ANC, although Mchunu has reportedly denied this. As yet, there has been no formal response from the City or the ANC, other than the suggestion that the elephants were not properly ratified by City Council. When contacted for this story, City Manager Michael Sutcliffe said “We really have nothing to say at this stage”. However, in an informal conversation with Durban businessman John Charter, who is a supporter of Botha’s Hu-
man Elephant Foundation, Sutcliffe reportedly said, “We’re going to take them down immediately. It’s not your fault. It’s just not politically expedient. Don’t talk about it”. It seems, however, that Sutcliffe is caught up in a political web that is not of the City’s making. Botha has already been paid a half-payment of R750 000 for the elephants and expects the city to pay up the other half (through Rumdel Cape, the contracting company assigned to the Warwick Avenue redevelopment, of which the sculptures form a part), regardless of whether they be allowed to stay in their current location. Rumours abound as to the elephants’ fate. Some have suggested that the three elephants, which Botha designed so that they seem to be emerging from the earth, might be joined by additional elephants or other members of the so-called big five. Botha points out that the elephant is probably the strongest symbol of Africa and that it is intricately woven into local history and culture. For starters, the elephant is also the symbol of the Msunduzi Municipality in Pietermaritzburg and appears on the twenty rand note.
While the debacle has gathered a smattering of national press, including a column by Ben Trovato in the Sunday Times, it’s gone viral on the web, where it’s been discussed on blogs and webforums and even pitched up in the form of a ‘Save the Elephants’ Facebook page. In a narrative that is awash with irony, the most ironic element of the story is that Botha erected the elephants on roughly the same spot where the last free-roaming elephant in Durban was purportedly shot. Now there is the strong possibility that these elephant simulacra will also be destroyed or at least removed from the public realm. What is certain is that the breadth of meaning of the elephant as a symbol vastly outweighs any political association with the IFP. The city – or national government, apparently the issue was to be discussed at a national ANC caucus – now has two choices: to get rid of the elephants or allow them to stay. Either way, there will be egg on their faces. But the egg will be minimised if they back down. (A third option would be to move the elephant to somewhere less public, which would incur considerable
expense and more egg). There’s one more aspect to the story which has received very little attention. This is not the first time that the city has comissioned public artworks from Andries Botha which have yet to make their way into the public space for one reason or another. The artist has previously been comissioned by the city to produce a series of struggle statues, including likenesses of John Dube, Nelson Mandela and Dorothy Nyembe, which were to be installed in the historically important area of Ohlanga. Additionally, the city also comissioned a sculpture of Isaiah Shembe from Botha several years ago. The struggle heroes are still sitting in the city’s architecture department while the sculpture of Shembe has not been installed because of factional rivalry in the Shembe community and also because to do so would apparently be idolatrous to those of the Shembe faith. It seems that public art in eThekwini is bedevilled with difficulties, all the more so if your name happens to be Andries Botha. Photo’s page 1 and 3: Peter Machen, on location with artist Andries Botha.
is privileged to offer for sale previously unreleased works together with the last works by the late
PIETER VAN DER WESTHUIZEN This exhibition will be held from 10am Sunday 28 February till 5pm Saturday 20 March at
66 Vineyard Rd Claremont, Cape Town
All exhibition works can be viewed and purchased from 6pm on Friday 26 February at
All enquiries please phone 021 671 6601 or Leonard Schneider 083 252 8876
“Pieter van der Westhuizen provided discerning art lovers throughout the world with many amazing and vibrant works during his lifetime. I can truly say however that this selection of paintings is amongst his nest ever and will delight and surprise his large band of admirers for their quality, variety and uniqueness. Anyone who is considering acquiring one of these exceptional works as an investment or just for the pure joy that all his work brings should seriously consider availing themselves of this nal opportunity to do so.” Leonard Schneider – Pieter’s agent A documentary on the life and work of Pieter van der Westhuizen has been completed.
Carmel Art is also pleased to announce that they will be relocating their Claremont gallery to the
View the trailer at www.chickenscany.co.za
27 Somerset Road Green Point from 1 April 2010 phone 021 421 3333
Screenings will be announced on this website in due course
South African Art Times March 2010
Rendezvous focus original lithography 2009/ 2011 The Rendezvous art project in partnership with French master Lithograph Elisabeth Pons is bringing a body of lithographical works from extensive Pons’s collection (Paris, France) to South Africa.
The collection- including Pablo Picasso, Pierre Soulages, Yves Klein, Hans Hartung, Wassily Kandinsky, or Ossip Zadkine- will be on show for the first time in South Africa and will be entrance free. This extraordinary Premiére will also include works by outstanding contemporary South African and French artists: William Kentridge, Judith Mason, Diane Victor, Jacques Villeglé, Paul Klasen, Jéremy Chabaud, Pontso Sikhosana, Philemon Hlungwani.
SA_Art Times JANUARIE_10.indd 1
Elisabeth Pons’ father, renowned master lithographer and artist Jean Pons, established the original collection in 1937. The artists presented in the collection all collaborated with Jean or Elisabeth Pons in their studio. Amongst them, renowned South African artist Bettie CilliersBarnard. More then 100 South African and French artists who have produced lithographical works will be exceptionally regrouped together on South African tour. Exhibition dates and venues: 8th of October to 4th of November 2009: Main Gallery and Botannical Garden Gallery of The North West University with exceptional presence of master lithographer Elisabeth PONS 11th November to 4th December 09:55:18 AM
2009: The Gallery of the Centuary Complex (Eeufees Kompleks) of The University of the Free State 20th of January to the 24th of February 2010: The Sasol Art Museum of The University of Stellenbosch 3rd of April to 11th of April 2010: KKNK art Festival- Oudtshoorn 14th of April to 28th of May 2010: Main Gallery of The University of Johannesburg (UJ) Furthermore, 6 promising South African artists will receive the opportunity to take part in a workshop at master lithographer Elisabeth Pons’ studio of Lithography in Paris. These artists will be announced at a ceremony on 11th of February 2010 at the Hyatt Regency in Johannesburg. The exhibition is proudly supported by Air Liquide- pty, The French Institute of South Africa (IFAS), Business and Arts South Africa ( BASA), Natixis bank, Squidart, The Art Room, The Hyatt Regency Johannesburg. In collaboration with Mark Attwood’s Artist Press Studio, near White River, The Artist Proof Studio in Johannesburg at, Elisabeth Pons Studio, this French- South African was made possible. For any enquiries or information, contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Above: Litho by Hanneke Benade, printed at the Artist’s Press Studio. Top: The Sasol Art Museum of The University of Stellenbosch
South African Art Times March 2010
Paul Emsley releases the likeness of Madiba from the paper with time, skill and charcoal. Emsley was recently commissioned by the British National Portrait Gallery in London to paint the knighted author - Sir V. S. Naipaul.
Award winning Paul Emsley to be at the JAF 2010 Staff writer In recent years, Paul Emsleyâ€™s career has reached new heights both locally and internationally. He does not consider himself a portraitist, and throughout his career has preferred not to limit himself with one genre. It is, however, in the field of portraiture that he has enjoyed noteworthy successes that warrant attention. In 2007 he won first prize in the prestigious BP Portrait Award in London. In 2009, his portrait of fellow artist William Kentridge raised eyebrows at the Johannesburg Art Fair, and sold to an anonymous buyer despite a hefty
price tag. In the same year, he was commissioned by the British National Portrait Gallery in London to paint the knighted author - Sir V. S. Naipaul. It is under these circumstances that Emsley recently began his most significant project - to produce a portrait of Nelson Mandela. In order to obtain the material required for such a project, Emsley met the world icon at his offices in Johannesburg and undertook all of the photography himself. Portraying what is perhaps the most famous face in the world, in such a way that it not only captures the essence of the man, but
complies to the highest standards of technical integrity (a hallmark of EmsleyĘźs work) was undoubtedly the greatest challenge facing the artist. There were, however, other unforeseen difficulties that had to be contended with. Emsley was given a ten minute slot in which to take the photographs. He explains: â€œThere were some difficulties and uncertainties, Mr. Mandela being understandably rather tired of being photographed. He was as engaging and warm as I had expected. He had about him a definite atmosphere of benevolent authority. I had to ask him to stop smiling as my intention was to do
a fairly â€˜seriousâ€™ portrait.â€? Emsley managed to obtain fourteen suitable photographs from which to work. The portrait is destined to find itself in one of the prominent museums in Europe or the United States (this process has not been finalized yet), but South African audiences can judge this historical work for themselves at the 2010 Johannesburg Art Fair. Paul Emsley is represented by the Redfern Gallery in London (www.redfern-gallery.com) and is associated with iArt Gallery in Cape Town (www.iart.co.za).
The Iziko South African National Gallery will be closed from 1 March - 14 April 2010
The Iziko South African National Gallery will undergo repair and maintenance during this time. A major re-hang, based primarily on the permanent collection, will reďƒ&#x;ect on the countryâ€™s unique contribution to modern and contemporary art.
general enquiries: email@example.com or 021 461 4663 media enquiries: firstname.lastname@example.org http//:www.iziko.org.za
Ne w Ho m e Off
& Sculpture Gallery Äƒ6XSSO\LQJ5HXVDEOH6FXOSWLQJ&OD\6FXOSWLQJ7RROV $UPDWXUHVÄƒ$GYDQFHG0RXOG0DNLQJÄƒ Äƒ7KXPEVL]HWR0RQXPHQWDO$UW&DVWLQJÄƒ Äƒ6SHFLDOL]HG3DWLQDWLRQÄƒ,QKRXVH&RPPLVVLRQV 8QGHUWDNHQÄƒ3URMHFW&RQVXOWLQJ 0DQDJHPHQWÄƒ
Gauteng & Mpumalanga
Web: www.tlafoundry.co.za Email: email@example.com Tel: 086 1112473 or 27 (0)13 7512435
The Onrus Gallery
Hennie Niemann Artworks 2 Lagoon Drive Onrus River, 7201 Tel 028 316 2103 Fax 028 316 2821 firstname.lastname@example.org www.theonrusgallery.co.za Hennie Niemann Harvesters
Hennie Niemann Fynbos Pickers
Hennie Niemann and Derrick Benzien rst formed a friendship and then a unique partnership to market the works of both South African Old Masters and more contemporary artists by establishing The Onrus Gallery at the beginning of 2008. Today Hennie numbers among the country’s senior and most revered living artists, with a career of virtually ve decades, nearly three of them full-time. His knowledge of South African Art is well regarded. Derrick has been dealing in art across the country for several years and has a sound rapport with many galleries, auction houses, collectors and artists.
Hennie Niemann Still Life with White Lamp
Their shared passion about and expertise in art is evident in the tasteful manner in which they display works in an atmosphere that is conductive to promoting its dignity. Hennie’s own paintings are now marketed exclusively through The Onrus Gallery. An impressive CV containing of his best works is available to browse through. Their gallery houses works by Stern, Gregoire, Buchner, Boshoff, Van Essche, Van Heerden, Wallace, Naude, and other important names. Corporate and collectors of investment art are well accommodated. The partners (who take turns in being available at all times) have a mission both to share their love of art and render advice (free of charge) to any visitors. “Anton Boonzaier”
“Free Evaluations” Monday – Sunday 9am - 2pm Derrick 082 566 8324 Hennie Niemann Still Life Flowers and Fruit
Hennie Niemann Girl holding Lilies
Hennie Niemann Young Girl holding Doll
Supplement to The South African Art Times, as part of The Great South African Art Masters Series
Dorothy Kay Portrait, Figurative Artist and Illustrator 1886-1964
Self Portrait with Red and White Scaff. Oil. 1950
“Everything you do is a portrait of yourself”
The artist as a young woman
Dorothy Kay is regarded as a conventional painter in the sense that she produced work which was unpretentiously realistic and easily understood by the viewer. She is best known for her portraits of civil dignitaries, social personalities and for her genre studies of ethnic African subjects. She was born in Ireland at the end of the 19th Century and was formally trained there, emigrating to marry a South African and settle in the Eastern Cape in Port Elizabeth where she where she spent the rest of her life. Her art training was conventional and based on drawing from still life and the human form –an interest which she retained throughout her long career. She seldom painted landscape unless as a background for her subject matter. She was to exhibit locally in Port Elizabeth to begin with, occasionally sending work overseas to competitions or exhibitions. Many of her commissions arose from her social connections made by her husband who was a doctor. Her public artistic endeavors saw her get involved with decorating halls for social functions, the design and execution of commissions for public companies and government buildings and many portrait commissions for private and public figures including 25 portraits of the mayors of Port Elizabeth. Her private work was nearly always centered on her family to whom she was bonded in varying degrees of intensity. Throughout her life she also produced self-deprecating and insightful self-portraits of herself wearing a library of different headgear. She was not afraid of appearing ridiculous and saw herself in a way which was devoid of flattery. “Her late self-portraits are suffused with a wonderful honesty”. (Arnold 1996: 126) She also continued to sketch and draw all the time filling numerous notebooks with notes and fragments of visual information. She also made drawing trips to the Transkei and, during the Second World War as a War artist, to various military installations around South Africa to gather information for paintings. In the latter part of her life, after her husband’s death, private concerns and a quest for new methods of expression took over, resulting in an extraordinary series of works which were quite unlike anything else she had produced before. Although she is best known for her realisic oil portraits, Kay continually sought to explore new ways of expressing herself in other media. Her work ranges from thick impastoed paint on coarse canvas to immaculately rendered watercolors, fine copper and dry point etchings, lithography, charcoal studies, illustrations for magazines, pencil studies, frescoes for public buildings and even, papier-mâché sculptures for dances and social events. She also made ceramic works in three-dimensions in clay for a period of three years.
Early years Dorothy Kay (Elvery) was born in County Wicklow in Ireland. She was one of seven children and in the tradition of most Victorian households, she was taught at home by a governess until she was old enough to go on to a small private school. One of several artistically talented siblings, her mother decided that she should learn to draw although she also displayed considerable musical talent. She could have been a successful pianist, singer or actress. It was decided that she and her older sister Beatrice should go to the Metropolitan School of Art in Dublin to learn painting and sculpture. Beatrice, who was five years older than Dorothy, recommended that Dorothy’s mother should move her from the Metropolitan art school to the Royal Hibernian School of Art as she regarded the tuition at the former to be inferior. There Dorothy continued to draw from and paint from life, copy old statues and study the drawing of drapery. One of the earliest influences in her life was a man who had been her parents’ best-man at their wedding and who apparently lived with or was a permanent boarder with the Elvery family. Mr Browning, who had travelled widely - and who had been a Government Excise official in Dublin - introduced Dorothy to the art of French polishing, woodwork and soldering – skills which were to manifest much later as an interest in and understanding of architecture, bridges and other engineering structures. She won several awards including the coveted Taylor Art Scholarship which she won in 1904. Her sister had already won it three years in a row. She began exhibiting with the “Young Irish Artists” and the Royal Hibernian Academy, acquiring a reputation as a fine water colourist. Much younger than most of the other students, Dorothy admired the work of Georges la Tour and George Stubbs – both society painters. Stubbs was British and became well-known for his paintings of horses and their owners. She was allowed to accompany her sister on a visit to Paris where she was exposed the work of people like Botticelli and Leonardo da Vinci for the first time. She left the Hibernian after four years study and returned to live at home and teach art and music to local children. Through her brother Phillip who was a student at the Royal College of Surgeons in Dublin, she met a South African medical student from Pretoria called William Hobart Ashburner Kay who was to become her husband. They sailed for Cape Town in 1909 and were married there. On their honeymoon, they visited Port Elizabeth which was to
become their permanent home a few years later. William Kay became a government medical officer and he was posted to positions all over South Africa before they settled in Port Elizabeth. Their first real home was in Nylstroom where their first child, Joan was born. A second child was born in Pretoria where Dr Kay was the MOH for a prisoner-of-war camp and twins were later born at Illovo Beach on the south coast of Natal. In 1917, the family moved to Port Elizabeth where he became the District Surgeon and Port Health Officer. Life with four children and a husband who travelled away frequently meant that most of Dorothy’s painting had to be fitted around household arrangements. In 1920, the family moved to a “country” home in Mill Park which overlooked the Baakens valley and its wooded kloofs. Today Mill Park is part of busy metropolitan central Port Elizabeth. The house was renovated to include an alcove off the living room which functioned as a studio. Early Style Dorothy’s early work was not particularly popular. She said that “Landscape painting, I have always felt, can be done by anyone, and it has never interested me much”.(Reynolds 1991: 45) Instead, she portrayed local subjects who were often found for her by her husband like fishermen from the harbour, horse-drawn cab drivers and local African subjects. She also painted subjects like the stone quarries, fish markets and the salt pans in the Coega estuary. Architecture and mechanical subjects like the jetties, bridges, breakwaters and cast iron railings were favourite subjects. Many of the early works were thickly painted on coarse canvases. She notes that when she began working in Port Elizabeth “More and more I came to love portrait work. They tell me that I have a happy knack of making speaking likenesses.” (Reynolds 1991:96). Portraiture is a particular way of translating information about a particular person. It has to, by definition, represent an aspect of that person so that the viewer is offered a perspective of the sitter’s personality, physical presence and psychic and emotional attributes. It is an impression which is filtered through the eyes of the artist so it may differ from either personal or public perception of the sitter. She was an accomplished draughtswoman and technician. Her medium throughout her portrait career was oils although she did make smaller watercolour studies and detailed drawings as well. Her astute observation of detail, her ability to empathise with her subject and her ability to convey character brought her many important commissions.
Middle career The Kays were very sociable people and moved into Port Elizabeth’s colonial society with ease. Both were members of the One Hundred Club where they learnt to tango and do the Charleston. According to their daughter Marjorie, boisterous parties were a frequent event in their home. Many portraits produced at this time were of friends or people associated with their social circle. Both were members of the Eastern Province Society of Arts and Crafts (EPSAC), a cultural society which was a forum and meeting place for artists, music lovers and theatre goers. Dorothy was a founder member of the society which started in 1918. She was to exhibit continuously in Port Elizabeth with the Eastern Province Society of Arts from 1919 – 1963, becoming President of the society in 1947.She was given a oneman retrospective by the society in June of 1955. Both Kays were involved in the early funding raising projects for the construction of an Arts Hall for EPSAC (now the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan Art Museum) which was opened later in 1956. Hobart was an actively supportive husband and often helped with the domestic chores and took the children to school in his Chevrolet. His support was to play an important role in both Dorothy’s perception of herself and her abilities. He was largely responsible for persuading her to go on with her art and for providing models for her and for making suggestions and engineering opportunities for her. He was also her main source of encouragement and affirmation. When he died, she was to undergo a personal crisis of artistic confidence. In 1921, she joined the Port Elizabeth Art School to learn how to etch. Englishman Francis Pickford Marriott was head of the school which had a staff of ex-patriot English people as staff members. He was to teach her the intricacies of copper and zinc plate etching, aquatint and dry point etching. During this phase of her career, she continued to produce a steady output of oil paintings. In 1926, after a long period of grief over her mother’s death, she submitted a portfolio of proofs to the Dominion Artists’ Exhibition in London where one of her prints - “Romance” - was bought by Queen Mary. She was to continue exhibiting overseas with the Royal Hibernian Academy and submitted several works to the Water Colour Society of Ireland. In addition, she showed in London at the British Empire Exhibition (1924) and at the Royal Society of British Artists. She was also elected a member of the Royal British and Colonial Society of Artists From 1928-9, Dorothy began to undertake commercial work illustrating advertisements for clients like General Motors, a well-known shoe store and The Outspan – a weekly magazine for which she produced, over a period of 18 years, over 2000 illustrations for stories. Illustrating was demanding and needed hours of accurate research to record details like how the bit sat in a horse’s mouth or what a British “Bobby’s” helmet looked like. Over the years she amassed hundreds of reproductions gleaned from books and magazines from the Public Library which were then placed in numerous scrapbooks. She also drew on the service of friends to pose for her. One young man called George Walker who became a friend of the family when they joined the Zwartkops Sailing Club was to feature quite recognisably in numerous illustrations or action drawings. During the War, serving in North Africa, he was to send her a ring made from shrapnel which he had polished with toothpaste which she was to wear to the end of her life. She produced two to four black-and-white illustrations per week using charcoal, as well as designing front covers for the magazine in three colours when required. The drawings were pasted on board, sprayed with fixative, covered with tissue paper and then wrapped in thick brown paper before being mailed by Hobart to the magazine editor. Her magazine illustration activities drew criticism from art critics who claimed that they spoilt her other work. She however, denied this claiming that “It helped a lot to realize the value of compositions and how to build them”. (Reynolds 1991:79) By 1941, she had stopped making illustrations and had become a war artist. In 1930, a Xhosa woman from Peddie in the Eastern Cape called Annie Marvata joined the Kay household as their domestic “cook-general” helper. “Cookie” was to remain with the family for 22 years, freeing Dorothy from household chores, enabling her to enter the studio at nine o’clock every morning from where she only emerged for lunch and returned to until tea time. Later, Annie was to organize the special foods and timetables for Hobart Kay when he became ill and she was to supervise the upbringing of numerous grand-children who moved in periodically to live with the Kays. In 1933, the Kay family sailed overseas to visit the Elvery family in Ireland. At a reunion meeting in London Dorothy was finally able to gain perspective and distance herself emotionally from the aura of influence of her sister Beatrice whom she had always perceived to be more gifted than she was. She also recognized, as many other ex-patriots do after a period of time, that England was no longer “home” – and that South Africa was. These intensely personal emotional shifts were to alter the tenor of her subsequent work. The return boat trip was also to bring about introductions to influential business people which would result in the first of her large commissioned murals in 1936. Her eldest daughter Joan had married the year before and settled in Johannesburg. While on a visit to her, Dorothy arranged a meeting with the director of Climax Rock Drills. She was to complete three 8,5 metre long panels depicting rock drilling, illustrating the drilling processes as they occurred fifty years ago by candlelight, then later by acetylene lamp and finally by modern Climax rock drill. After her death, the panels were sold to the Africana Museum Collection in Johannesburg. Her interest and her ability to handle mechanical subject matter also resulted in a large technically experimental work in which she portrayed surgeons and nurses at work in an operating theatre. Interested in “an all white subject in shadowless lighting”, it is one of the lightest paintings she made and was the result of visiting and observing at three hospital theatres. She made twenty-seven pages of sketches recording detailed information on instruments and technical equipment. In the final image, she portrayed members of her family as the central figures. Hobart is clearly visible facing the viewer. Characteristic of her preparation for the subject matter of her paintings, she was obsessive about getting body attitude and gesture right. She took many photographs of the way in which instruments and equipment were used in mining, surgical and military environments. These were never used for replication but only as an informational tool. Shortly afterwards, in 1938, she painted large oil depicting her family -“The
The Elvery family. a Memory, Oil on canvas, 1938, SANG
Elvery Family: A Memory”. Arnold describes the work as an ‘audacious’ work. “Today this painting not only seems in advance of its time through the use of devices which are accepted in a postmodernist vocabulary, but offers fascinating material for understanding Kay’s womanhood…..Kay analysed her nostalgia, personal history and her role as daughter, sister and mother – in short, her womanhood” (Arnold 1996:127,128). Dorothy’s family was a talented and unusual family bound together by their love of singing – which they could all do - their love of the arts and a penchant for the ridiculous in life. In her narrative style Dorothy explored conceptual ideas like personal interaction, bits of personal history (memory) the fusion of time and the use of quotation. The painting encapsulates not only the idiosyncratic details of each family member’s character and interests, but also juxtaposes different time frames from the Elvery family histology in a single composition. “These strategies, connecting events embedded in memory, render the painting similar to works made by later artists – such as Penelope Siopis – who position themselves in a postmodern and feminist framework.(Arnold 1996:129). The following year, she painted Three Generations (1939) in which her four adult children are positioned under the replication of the Elvery Family thus connecting past events to those of the present. One of the most authoritative portraits of any of her subjects was made at this time. William Pagel, the “strong man” of Pagel’s circus is portrayed seated impassively between a lion, a tiger, a lioness and leopard. To her chagrin the painting was rejected for exhibition by the South African Society of Artists of which she had been a member for many years and is reputed to have been the reason for her resigning from the society. In December of 1940, she was commissioned to paint two murals for the new Reserve Bank to be built in Port Elizabeth. These two large works Commerce and Industry incorporated some reworked figures from earlier works like the Old Oyster Woman and figures from paintings on mining subjects. They were completed two years later.
Three Generations,Oil on canvas,1939
The Eye of the Beholder ,1953, NMMAM
Dorothy Kay, 1944
Hairdryer - Rome, Oil on canvas,1954
Dorothy Reading Under the Laburnam Tree, Watercolour
Brass Tacks, self portrait ,1953, Johannesburg Art Gallery
Mama, Oil on canvas
Crowning Glory, 1954, Oil on canvas
On a visit to Cape Town early in 1941 to a South African Society of Artists exhibition, she made contact with Major J. Wright who was to facilitate her acceptance as a war artist. She then began an intensive period of recording aspects of military activities which included drawing at aerodromes, describing the searchlights and heavy guns of coastal and harbour defenses and sketching at military field hospitals. For the best part of three years, she submitted numerous war-subject works. Most were rejected and some sketches were confiscated by the Propaganda and Censorship section. Many works were either painted over or destroyed. Dorothy believed that the continued rejection of her work was due to the fact that she was a woman and as such, was not able to draw her material from its source which was the battlefield. Relegated to what she considered to be “tame” subjects at home, she tried to get the backing of an American magazine to send her to the front as a war correspondent artist but was without success. However, eight of paintings from this period now hang in the South African Military Museum in Johannesburg. She also received many private commissions for portraits of young men serving in the South African Army, Navy or Air Force. “Far End”, the Kay’s Mill Park home became a meeting place for many of the men serving in the local divisions of the Service forces. In 1943 and ’44, she completed as many as 27 portraits which included many of young men in uniform either posthumously or as a record of their military service. A sketching trip to the Transkei took place in December of 1946 which resulted in a freeing up of her customary meticulous technique. Using various media, she and a friend spent two weeks in a make-shift hotel studio (“ a sort of urinals at the back of the premises”) recording “millions” of subjects (Reynolds:156). The images have a spontaneity and looseness of technique which were to result in paintings like Xhosa Women and He said his name was Paulumbaan. She returned home to start on a list of portrait commissions which were interrupted by her husband’s collapse with a heart attack which resulted in his hospitalisation, subsequently requiring that she should monitor his health closely for the next 20 months. In June of the following year, Hobart’s health was sufficiently improved for her to be able to sail to England for a reunion with a New Zealand-based sister whom she had not seen for twenty years. Accompanied by two of her sisters, she travelled to the Continent to war-ravaged Paris visiting art galleries both there and back in London. She returned in October to juggle with her busy painting schedule and to deal with Hobart’s deteriorating health which had necessitated him returning to hospital. He was to die in October of 1949. During this period she became friendly with Jack and Jane Heath. Both had had academic training as artists in Britain. They had moved to South Africa in 1946 where he took up a post at Rhodes University, subsequently taking up the post of head of department at the Port Elizabeth School of Art a year later. “Bohemenian” evenings took place where there was much intellectual debate about aesthetics and life accompanied by copious amounts of food and drink. For a while, this interchange with the Heaths undermined Dorothy’s perception of her work. Dealing with her husband’s death had been isolating and she floundered with over-whelming feelings of inadequacy about her abilities as an artist and agonised over whether an academic knowledge of art would improve her performance. Veering away from photographic realism for the first time, she dabbled in semi-abstraction, unintentionally laying the intellectual foundations for future work. In 1950, amidst household disruptions from the new domestic staff which had been hired to replace “Cookie” who had retired, she completed a portrait of General Smuts, commissioned as gift for his 80th birthday. The stiff formal portrait of “Grey Steel” incurred public criticism which she dealt with good–humouredly. She also discovered a new medium – that of ceramic sculpture. Records have it that she joined the pottery classes at the Port Elizabeth Technical College as a part-time student some time in 1951 and remaining there until the end of 1953. Most of the sculptures depict creatures or figures and are imaginatively treated. She was painstaking in the preparation of glazes and colours but ended up with a preference for an all white “tin” glaze.
The Pink Bonnet,Oil on canvas, 1919
Joan, Oil on canvas, 1930
J A Riley, sergeant in the 1st City Regiment , Oil on canvas
Miss Dorothy Savage,Exhibited 1924, Oil on canvas
Cookie. Annie Mavata, 1954, Pretoria Art Museum Flesh and Steel c 1942, Oil on canvas
General J C Smuts, Oil on canvas, NMMAM Collection
The War Years
Portrait of an Actor. John Hamber. 1955, Oil on canvas
Herman Buisman Esq. 1962, Oil on canvas
Portrait of Herbert Hastings McWilliams, Oil,1944. NMMAM
Portrait of Nancy McWilliams. Oil, 1944, NMMAM
He said his name was Paulumbaan, 1948, Oil on canvas
Doorway Old Town House Cape Town, Etching
The Oyster Woman, Oil on canvas,1922, Albany Museum Portrait of a Man wearing a suit
Malay Driver, Etching 1923
The Watchman (Nongqai), Etching
The Travellers, 1944, Oil on canvas
Collections consist of South African art (particularly that of the Eastern Cape), British art, international printmaking and Oriental art (including Indian miniatures and Chinese textiles). These are supplemented by an active programme of temporary exhibitions. (Portraits by Dorothy Kay owned by Nelson Mandela Bay) 1 Park Drive, Port Elizabeth, 6001
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A Year in the life of the artist -1950
The glue pot, 1951, SANG
Mature work From 1951, subject matter in her painting changes to include still life objects which masquerade as abstract compositions. Hair dryers, lamps, spear–fishing equipment, umbrellas, shells and mirrors all feature as subjects. She also completes the definitive portrait of Annie Mavata. Dorothy was to make one of the first democratic portraits of a black person where the intrinsic nature of an African woman’s personality is the dominant ethos of the portrait. Most depictions of African subjects by European painters in South Africa at this time were ethnic or romantically stereotyped. The portrait of Annie Marvata is a landmark image for its time. The portrait was painted some years after taking a photograph of Annie with a camera given to her by her husband. Because he was ill, she was unable to execute the portrait until three years later. Dorothy regarded the camera as a tool. “She was not interested in the mechanised, monocular vision of the camera lens but in the subjective interpretation of the human eye…. she considered her photographs as ‘notes’ to be adapted and manipulated”. (Arnold 1996: 98). It is an interpretative and unsentimental portrait of a woman who is wearing the clothes of a servant but who is a confident independent personality. “ … it is not the didactic illustration of a cook in the kitchen”. (Arnold 1996: 99). Arnold goes on to note that the portrait of Annie Marvata has to be seen against the political background of the politically turbulent 50’s. Kay sold her work to a white art market. “Acceptable and saleable subjects in these years included landscapes, still-life paintings and portraits. Aesthetic considerations dominated picture making, and the controversies of the period were concerned with style and the claims of Modernism rather than the social implications of the subject matter.” (Arnold 1996: 101). A visit to Britain in 1954 was to galvanise her in new directions. In a seminal painting called “Brass Tacks”, Dorothy depicts herself in a Braque-like caricature of her nick-name “spike” which she superimposed on a Greek bust. Recognizable objects which were part of the household objets d’art were distorted and manipulated into a cubist-like composition in shades of ochre, black and rust. It is an extraordinary departure from her normal oeuvre and heralds a period of quasi-abstract works which are laced with humour and fun. A second version which she submitted to the Living Art exhibition in London was rejected. Visits to many prominent London galleries convinced her that standards in art, in her opinion, had dropped appallingly. One of the most striking works that she ever made was made on a short visit to Rome. Again, a hairdryer forms the central topic of the painting, herself featuring as the protagonist under the dryer. It is a humorous, commanding image of the artist, her elbows resting on the arms of the chair. In reverse on the front of the dryer is the word “Imperatrice”. She referred to it later as her “Pope” picture. It is the apogee of a series of unsentimental and insightful self–portraits executed over her life time. Both “Cookie” and “Hairdryer, Rome” were submitted for a competition arranged by the Trustees of the National Galleries of Australia. In May of 1955, she presided over an EPSAC sponsored exhibition of 70 of her works in all media ranging from early 1902 to the present time. No oil paintings were sold. Throughout her long productive career, she produced in the region of three hundred portraits, many of them commissioned works of important local and national figures. She continued to work despite increasing health problems. Concern about her son’s financial problems with his Farm at Addo near Port Elizabeth may have contributed to the heart attack that she suffered in April of 1957. Whilst recuperating, she met a British Press attaché called Reggie Ross–Williamson and his wife. He was an artist in his own right and had studied “monotypes” under John Piper, an eminent British artist. Dorothy was unfamiliar with the media and asked to be shown how they were made and after a demonstration, she embraced the new process with enthusiasm. The process is a reverse printing procedure where fabric paint is rolled onto a plate of glass and paper placed on top and then incised with a pencil or marked with fingers. Prints are then pulled off the glass. At the age of 71, Dorothy was to experiment with the new process combining the technique with careful drawing because she found the element of chance irritating. She was to make a series of monotypes of ship’s figureheads, romantic relics from old ships which she was to search for and find on trips around the Western Cape. Four years later she began to make abstract monotypes for inclusion in an exhibition to tour Yugoslavia. These constructivist-like works are a far cry from her realistic portraits which had been staple fare throughout her working life. During the next three years she would produce quasi-abstract paintings of objects like umbrella spines, shells and deckchairs which were given conceptual titles like “astronaut”, “sentinel” and “ampersand”. She continued to paint portraits, one of the last being an imposing portrait of Herman Buisman, a long time friend and admirer. On a trip to Dublin with her family in 1963, she had a stroke and was flown back to South Africa. She died at her home “Far End” seven months later.
Old Oyster Woman, Oil on canvas
Kay’s rising value Old Oyster Woman was for sold R1.4 million in Cape Town in 2009 by Strauss and Co. Art Auctioneers. Commissions
Marine Power.Commission for General Motors 1945
Manpower, Commission for General Motors 1945
Surgery. Oil on canvas,1937, UCT Cape Town.
World Events in 1950 - Major events which started in this period are the outbreak of the Cold War and the beginning of the decolonization of Africa. - Klaus Fuchs, a Soviet spy confesses to passing on information about British and American nuclear secrets to the Russians. - In South Africa, the Group Areas act is passed formally segregating the races and the Suppression of Communism Act is also passed a few months later. - L. Ron Hubbard publishes “Dianetics: the Modern Science of Mental Health” in America. - The world’s tenth highest mountain in the Himalayas called Annapurna is conquered. - The Korean War starts and the world’s first jet dogfight takes place. - Peanuts - the comic strip drawn by Charles M Schultz is first published. - The first Gay liberation movement is founded in Los Angeles in America. - Mount Etna erupts in Sicily. - Myxomatosis is introduced to Australia to control the rabbit population - Born: Jody Scheckter, SA racing driver; Mark Spitz, American Olympic Gold medalist swimmer; Peter Gabriel, rock musician; Stevie Wonder, jazz musician; Sir Richard Branson, Princess Anne and Dr Phil Mc Graw. - Died: George Bernard Shaw, George Orwell, Vaslav Nijinsky and Jan Smuts. Source: Wikipedia.
At the beginning of the year she accompanied friends to Durban where she made contact with an artist who was working on a commission to paint cricket fields for Lords Pavilion to be hung at the MCC in London. She was awarded the commission to paint the St Georges Park Cricket Ground in Port Elizabeth. She also made numerous contè drawings of Zulu men and women on this visit and on a subsequent return visit later in the year. “Cookie” retires and a period of domestic upheaval commences with interruptions to her painting schedule because of having to make court appearances at the trial of a burglar. She completes a portrait of Betty Dunlop and has to cancel other sittings for two portraits. Vasco De Gama, a large decorative panel depicting the explorer which had been exhibited in 1946 was retrieved from the Arts Hall and is reworked in painstaking detail. She also began designing for a commission for panels for a Bulawayo motor firm which had seen the designs she made for General Motors. She was to research both Cecil John Rhodes and David Livingstone in depth as a background to the designs which were never completed. The etching “Energy” is produced during this period. She begins work on the Smuts portrait which is to be presented to him on his 80th birthday. The work is completed and delivered by November. The self-portrait of herself as an artist holding her palette is completed. Her wardrobe is being “tackled’ as there was a possibility that she may go to New York where her children were working. Begins a portrait of May, Mrs Ivan Hunt which is ‘all white organdie and a bit of glamour’ (Reynolds 1989: 237) In the school holidays, she returns to Durban to make detailed sketches of military insignia and flags which will be need for the Smuts portrait. More drawings were made of Zulu subjects. Returns to Port Elizabeth in time to prepare and submit work for EPSAC’s annual exhibition. Dorothy Kay kept many diaries and note books throughout her life. Her daughter Marjorie edited an autobiographical account of her mother’s memoirs of family life in The Elvery Family: a memory” in which she records her mother’s comments and thoughts many things which concerned and interested her. She also published an in- depth biography of her mother’s life and work. The most pertinent comment to come from the artist herself is the one she uses to title the biography in which her mother declares that “Everything you do is a portrait of yourself”. Biography: Dorothy Kay 1886: Born to Anglo-Irish parents in County Wicklow 1902: Enters Metropolitan School of art, Dublin 1904: Wins Taylor Scholarship at the Royal Hibernian Art School at the age of 16 1909/10: Becomes engaged and marries William Hobart Ashburner Kay and emigrates to South Africa 1918: Moves to Port Elizabeth where Hobart becomes District Surgeon and Port Health Officer and Dorothy begins to exhibit with EPSAC painting local subjects and people. 1921: Joins Port Elizabeth School of Art to learn to etch 1922: First one-Man exhibition in Grahamstown 1924: Shows works at British Empire Exhibition in London and Canadian National Exhibition in Toronto and Royal Hibernian Academy in Dublin. 1926: Dominion Artists’ Exhibition, London 1927: Begins illustrating for Outspan magazine 1930: Annie Marvata joins Kay household as domestic manager 1936/37: Joan married and Dorothy is commissioned to design panels for Climax Rock Drills and Gold Mining for Empire Exhibition in Milner Park, Johannesburg. Commissioned to paint Bishop MacSherry. Produces large painting Surgery. 1938/40: Paints The Elvery Family: a memory and Three Generations and William Pagel Esq. 1940: Exhibits at Royal Academy, London. Commissioned for Reserve Bank panels, Port Elizabeth 1941: Appointed Official War artist and travel to Transvaal to make sketches 1945: Commissioned by General Motors for murals and paints Vasco da Gama mural 1948: Trip to Britain and Hobart dies 1950/3: Sketching trip to Transkei – records many ethnic studies. Begins to make ceramic works. Cookie retires. Portrait of General Smuts completed. Self-Portrait Glue Pot is accepted for exhibition at the 1952 Van Riebeeck Tercentennial Festival, Cape Town and subsequently bought by SA National Gallery. Completes Brass Tacks. 1954: Portrait of Annie Marvata completed 1955: Paints Hairdryer. Rome. Shown at sponsored EPSAC exhibition “Works of Dorothy Kay 1902-1955”. 1956: Exhibits first S A Quadrennial 1960: Exhibits second S A Quadrennial and South African Graphic exhibition in Yugoslavia and Munich, Germany. 1961: Exhibits graphics Sao Paulo Biennale, Brazil 1964 : Exhibits Third SA Quadriennal and Venice Biennale Acknowledgements Thanks to the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan Art Museum’s staff and librarian. Albany Museum, Grahamstown, William Humphreys Museum, Kimberley, Pretoria Art Museum and Basil Brady Biographical Sources : 1. Art and Artists of South Africa.Berman, E. 1994. Southern Book Pub. 2. “The Elvery Family: a Memory”. Reynolds, M. 1991. Carrefour Press. CT 3. “Everything You Do is a Portrait of Yourself”. Reynolds, M. 1989. Private Publishing. 4. Women and Art in South Africa. Arnold, M. 1996. David Philip. CT 5. Archives. Nelson Mandela Metropolitan Art Museum, Port Elizabeth.
Researched and written by Jeanne Wright
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South African Art Times March 2010
Ndikhumbule Ngqinambi - an African Symbolist painter
SA Art Times exclusive interview: Ndikhumbule Ngqinambi Ndikhumbule, who is currently working at Greatmore Studios, was born in 1977 in Cape Town, but as his paintings reflect, his reference point returns to his family roots in Tsolo, in the Eastern Cape. In 2000-2001 he attended the Community Arts Project (CAP) in Woodstock and learnt painting from Joseph Gaylard. He says his painting reflects the contrast between the rural and urban landscape and reflects the themes of culture (the spirit self) and religion (the outer physicality of Church). His works embody the pull between culture and religion, symbolised in cultural practices that address the
self and formal religious practice. His reference point is that of Xhosa culture that addresses the spirit and physical lifetimes. “Your spirit will always return back to your cutural base, the place you come from” In turning wave, the wave symbolises a message being sent from the world under water, the cultural/spiritual world, to the formalised religious world of the church, above the water. It illustrates the contrast between the religious world and the cultural world of the self. The cultural belief is a lasting practise, the world that every person’s spirit inhabits that is different from a religious world. For Ngquinambi, placing people on the landscapes shows continuity, that life continues on a spiritual and physical plane, and thus carries on forever. House of Light symbolises the path of a young man (See cover). The path representst he young boy, coming from initiation school, where he has received knowledge from his elders. The light represents the new knowledge - ‘All those things you didn’t know’. Ndikhumbule recently held a solo show at The AVA Gallery in Cape Town. See www.ava.co.za for more work
Left - right (above): Wrong window,(top right) Turning wave, (middle) Recorded history, (below) On the void
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Preview: Friday 12 March, 2.30 pm to 4.30 pm Saturday 13 March 9.00 am to 4.00 pm Sunday 14 March 9.00 am to 6.00 pm The preview will take place at the Vineyard Hotel and at Strauss & Co’s offices which are situated directly opposite at The Oval. Maurice Charles Louis van Essche, Nude, signed and dated 65, oil on board, 90 by 60cm R300 000 – 500 000
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