SANAVA promotes visual arts, develops visual artists and furthers international cooperation in the field of the visual arts Newsletter Nº
July 2014
"Successful adaptation to change is as crucial within an organisation as it is in an individual's life and the natural world" - SANAVA President Dirkie Offringa.
A word from SANAVA President Dirkie Offringa

We are turning over a new leaf, but I wish to reassure SANAVA members that the executive committee has the interests of the association at heart and that we are eager to communicate with our members more regularly.

Much thought has gone into the planning of the new look of the newsletter and we hope that you are as pleased as we are with the result that Junxion Communications has come up with.

We want to bring you fresh news from all the art fronts, tell you about exciting art competitions and opportunities for artists.

Successful adaptation to change is as crucial within an organisation as it is in an individual's life and the natural world. For an organisation, change management means defining and implementing procedures and/or technologies to deal with changes in the business environment and to profit from changing opportunities.

Terry Paulson, the author of Paulson on Change, quotes an uncle's advice: "It's easiest to ride a horse in the direction it is going." In other words, don't struggle against change - learn to use it to your advantage.

Streamlining and modernising SANAVA's management systems and revitalising the SANAVA newsletter have been long overdue. All organisations use technology and contemporary design to communicate with their audience. We will be able to coordinate projects and funding applications via a more regular electronic newsletter.

SANAVA also needs to give attention to improved public relations and we believe that by appointing professionals with experience of state-of-the-art administration, fundraising, marketing and journalism we will be able to do all this.

The SANAVA Management Committee accepted the proposal presented by Junxion Communications and the administration of SANAVA was transferred to this company on 1 May. The SANAVA Constitution (9.10.5) empowers the executive committee to engage and dismiss an executive officer, officials and such other clerical staff as in its opinion may be required and to determine their status, duties and remuneration.

We trust that the SANAVA branches and affiliated members will support our change of management and that we may count on your cooperation. As per our earlier e-mail request, please feel free to provide the secretariat with the contact details of your members, so as to compile a distribution list that will facilitate direct information of national relevance to them immediately.

Looking forward to moving SANAVA forward with you.

Dirkie Offringa
New lease for Absa Atelier awards

"I am confident that the recent Council and Annual General Meeting held at the Ann Bryant Gallery in East London have placed the operations of SANAVA on a new level. The high-spirited confidence with which delegates made practical suggestions and firm decisions will certainly stand our organisation in good stead."

This is according to SANAVA President Dirkie Offringa.

"It is my pleasure to confirm that our long-standing agreement with Absa to host the biggest art competition in South Africa - the Absa Atelier awards - will continue for another four years.

"Absa's support to SANAVA will be more than R75 000 per year for the next four years. Details of the agreement are being finalised and an announcement will be made soon.

"The new agreement makes provision for R5 000 for collection points of approved artworks and another R5 000 should the branch decide to host a small exhibition of the chosen works. Furthermore, Absa will pay the SANAVA membership fees of those branches chosen as collection points that are struggling to pay the fees.

"We are delighted that the cooperation between SANAVA and Absa will continue - all to the benefit of the visual arts in South Africa in general and to our members in particular," said Offringa.
The 2014 SANAVA Annual General meeting took place at Ann Bryant Gallery in East London. The Bryant family donated the well-preserved Victorian building to the local municipality with the sole purpose to use it as a public gallery.
Supporting the visual arts

"Whatever we do should be in support of South African artists and our members," said Offringa.

She said the hosting of international art exhibitions was the mandate and responsibility of the South African government, not that of SANAVA.

The support of the Council meeting in this regard was ratified by the Annual General Meeting.

"Whilst we fully support SANAVA's membership of the International Association of Arts, it has become too expensive to serve on its committee and attend meetings," said Offringa.

"Funds should be used to support local artists."

The meetings resolved to request the South African Minister of Arts and Culture to request the country's cultural attaché to attend the International Association of Arts' annual meeting as an observer.
SANAVA Executive Committee mandated by the Council to take operational decisions. Executive members that attended the Annual General Meeting are Honorary Treasurer Alexander Ellis, Secretariat member Ben Rootman, President Dirkie Offringa and co-opted member Barry Gibb. Other Executive Members are Vice President Avitha Sooful, Vice President Yvonne Burns, co-opted member for international liaison Anton Loubser and Secretariat member Martin van Niekerk.
Streamlining SANAVA's administration

The Annual General Meeting ratified the Council's decision to mandate the executive committee to take operational decisions.

This will empower SANAVA to operate efficiently as a modern-day business undertaking - the overall viewpoint of the meetings.

As most associations internationally operate as virtual and electronic offices, the meetings resolved that the SANAVA head office at the University of Pretoria will be vacated, the documentation archived at Unisa [and made available for students] and the artworks handed to the University of Pretoria on loan.

A selection committee - Barry Gibb, Harry Siertsema and Annelize Marais - will view donated works of artists intending to visit the Cité, before they leave. The artworks will be donated unconditionally, allowing SANAVA to deal with these as it finds fit.

The appointment of Junxion Communications as the SANAVA secretariat was approved by Council and ratified by the Annual General Meeting.
Exclusive! SANAVA Matters talks to Pieter Binsbergen

There is no doubt Pieter Binsbergen has had a most interesting career thus far. Apart from the many successful exhibitions he has held, he has also managed to pursue another of his greatest passions - the teaching of painting. Thus, while putting himself on the South African art scene, he also pursued an academic career by completing a master's degree and enrolling for a doctorate.

He has openly criticised contemporary art education and acknowledges that his area of research has allowed him to consolidate his outspoken views on the role of visual art and the approach to art education curricula in a technology-driven world.

One cannot but be impressed by Pieter's achievements thus far.

SANAVA Matters - Please tell us about your career as an artist and art instructor

I graduated cum laude at the University of Pretoria in Visual Art in 1991, majoring in painting. After receiving a merit bursary from Tuks I enrolled for a Master's degree in painting in 1992 at that institution. I completed the degree in 1994. While I was busy with my studies I entered as many nationally recognised art exhibitions as I could. I wanted to put myself on the map in the contemporary South African art scene.

In January 1994 I was offered a teaching post in art at my alma mater, Pretoria Boys High School. Following the lead of Battiss and Scully, I relied on the school's data base and resources to ‘make myself known'. The school has an excellent network of parents, students and old boys worldwide which embraced my art and teaching philosophy.

In 2000 Pieter van Heerden, who was the director of the State Theatre Art Gallery in Pretoria, offered me a major solo exhibition at the State Theatre. The success of the exhibition, which opened with over 500 people in attendance, was linked to the promotion of my work by the school and the State Theatre. This show put me on the map and secured my future as a painter! The Association of Arts (Pretoria) also took notice of my work and pledged their support and it is safe to say that the school and the association played a very significant part in launching my career as a painter.

The following year Pieter van Heerden was appointed as the director of the Association of Arts Pretoria. He and Nandi Hilliard organised a number of exhibitions which were met with great success and resulted in good sales. These exhibitions contributed greatly to the shaping of my artistic career.

I was also fortunate enough to meet Prof Marinus Wiechers who, as an art lover, artist and academic, assisted in shaping my future in art academics.

The association involved me in various art projects and judging panels at national art competitions until I was appointed as the national chairman of the Sasol New Signatures Art Competition, the Arts Association initiative sponsored by Sasol, in 2010. This not only afforded me the opportunity to travel and meet with academics within my field, but also to network on a national level.

In 2007 I was appointed as course co-ordinator for Visual Art Education in the Faculty of Education at the University of Pretoria. As my field of expertise lay with painting and not education, I was fortunate enough to receive training whilst in employment. This enabled me to successfully move through the changes in education policies from curriculum 2005 through OBE and into the new CAPS programme. While teaching at secondary level at Pretoria Boys High during the 90's I discovered a passion for imparting knowledge to others. It was a simple philosophy indeed. I loved art! I lived it and through my passion I was able to instil this passion in my learners!

I became a subject specialist for art education at secondary level by virtue of my hands-on experience in education. I openly addressed the issue of the role of the ‘Artist Teacher' versus the role of the ‘Art Teachers'. I was of the view that some art teachers at school level did not sufficiently practice their trade enough. I challenged why they themselves were not exhibiting artists.

I also questioned the understanding of the nature of the subject and the professional practice identity it took on at the time. Art was seen as a pass-time or a ‘soft option' subject. This love-hate relationship between visual art and art education, including my outspoken views about contemporary art education, captured the attention of Prof Jonathan Jansen who was at the time the Dean of the Faculty of Education at Tuks. I applied for a position in the Faculty of Education and was appointed as a lecturer in July 2007. This marked my return to art academics at a tertiary level.

In 2012 I registered for a doctorate in the Faculty of Education at Tuks. Travelling with New Signatures and networking my research area with other academics at a national level, afforded me the opportunity to start forming a framework for multimodal approaches in visual art and art education under the supervision of Prof Adelia Carstens. Prof Marinus Wiechers was approached as an external examiner and critical reader for my doctoral proposal along with Prof Ingrid Bergvist of the University of Linskoping, Sweden. The doctoral proposal was successfully defended by the end of 2012. My research area thus allows me to consolidate my outspoken views on the role of visual art and the approach to art education curricula in a technology-driven world.

In 2013 I applied for a senior lectureship in painting at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University in Port Elizabeth. In December 2013 my family and I relocated to Port Elizabeth where I now work in the faculty of Arts under the Director of School, Mary Duker and the Head of Department, David Jones. I am currently completing chapters of my PhD empirical research study and working towards a graduation solo exhibition entitled ‘Re-invent, Re-locate'.

Working within a pure visual art environment with a wide array of new resources to tap into, has offered a breath of much needed fresh air into my process of academic writing and art making. I am also fortunate to work under the mentorship of contemporary sculptor and academic David Jones. His approach and methodology to lecturing practical subject areas in visual art is a true inspiration and I believe he is one of the best art instructors not only locally, but worldwide. His knowledge and experience is unsurpassed. These circumstances have enabled my career to flourish and come full circle in the sense that I am involved in my true passion: the teaching of painting.

SANAVA Matters - We recently learned from the minister that art instruction is to be re-introduced in school curricula. What are your views on art teaching in the schools, especially in view of the fact that you have taught art to education students for the past number of years?

During the 1990's the tuition of visual art suffered at the secondary educational level. Schools had an option: they could either offer the subject or reject it. A positive attribute of the introduction of the government's new education policy called Outcomes Based Education meant that art was to be reintroduced in South African schools. This instruction was issued by the Department of Education early in the new millennium. The subject was reintroduced as a learning area called arts and culture and became a compulsory subject in all South African schools. During this period the learning area was to cover four strands of the arts - dance, drama, music and visual art. This was a bold move by government with good intentions of teaching social and cultural tolerance.

However, in my opinion, what this produced were disheartened teachers who were forced to become a ‘jack of all trades and a master of none'. Nonetheless the refinement of the curricula over years to come, with the introduction of the National Curriculum Statement and later a revised version, saw a refinement in the nature, character and outcome of the subject.

The National Curriculum Statement focus rested on working within a wide framework, allowing teachers to embrace their own areas of expertise within the arts. During 2011 the Curriculum Assessment Policy Statement was introduced, which allowed schools to focus on two of the four offered fields within the arts.

I am under the impression that most schools have returned to the focus on music and visual art. The name of the subject changed from ‘art and culture' to ‘creative arts' while the subject remained recognised as visual art in the further education and training phase of secondary education. The return to textbook teaching with a set curriculum at national level, has offered an injection of new energy into art at school. For this I commend the government!

My PhD research focuses on art in schools and attempts to find the alignment between what is offered at school compared to what is happening in the contemporary art scene, both locally and internationally. I am of the opinion that despite the facelift the subject has received, it is still not given the academic status it deserves by the community at large.

The sceptical or cynical view is: What can you do with art after you leave school - it holds no major career advantages when compared to commerce and scientific subject areas? My research thus aims to introduce aspects of multimodal teaching strategies into the world of visual art and art education.

Through a process of trial and error, the Department of Education has embraced the arts and emphasises its importance, not only as a school subject but as a powerful voice for our social and cultural heritage.

SANAVA Matters - As chairman of the judge's panel for the Sasol New Signatures Competition, what are your views on art competitions?

As mentioned, I embraced national art competitions as a young artist. These competitions offer a launching pad into the contemporary art scene and offer the artist valuable exposure in the form of catalogues and various other forms of printed media. The internet and the important role that social networking plays within society means that national competitions now enjoy greater exposure than before.

National art competitions fulfil a very important role within society. They bring art to the public via their financial contributions in terms of sponsorships. More importantly, I see these competitions as educational tools - not only for artists but for the public at large. Further, national education has taken notice of the important role of art competitions and has embraced them within the art curricula. However, there will always be those cynics and critics who question the basis of or bias of such endeavours.

Be that as it may, without major corporate companies such as Sasol, Absa and Pretoria Portland Cement sponsoring art competitions nationally, our country would be all the poorer for it. Their involvement and interest should thus be embraced and commended.

SANAVA Matters - Please give us some ideas about the content of your doctoral thesis

The response of art education to the challenges of a multimodal world

Multimodality is a term used by linguistic scholars in the mid 1990's to name communicative practices that involve the use of more than one mode of representation. Primarily, as a result of the technological revolution sparked by the internet, text no longer serves as a stand-alone mode of communication. It has become commonly accepted that text, images, gestures, moving images, colour, action and 3D models are combined to make meaning. Linguists first recognised the need for theorising the notion of multimodality in the early 1990s, and in the mid-1990s Kress and Van Leeuwen formulated a so-called visual grammar.

The role that multiple modes play in meaning-making has been reflected in language curricula, both in basic and further education. Meaning-making is a global umbrella term for understood communication, irrespective of the mode of choice.

For instance, teaching the principles of visual literacy, and critically ‘reading' visuals, comprises a formal part of the curricula for English and Afrikaans home language from the intermediate phase to the further education and training phase.

No formal theoretical framework to deal with multimodality in visual art has been formulated. Furthermore, although new national education policy documents imply notions of multimodality, they fail to clarify what the concept entails or how multimodality should be incorporated into visual art and arts education.

This study aims to show that multimodal works of art have been produced for ages, but multimodal practices have never been systematically documented. In addition, it aims to show that the artworks of national award winners, and the art portfolios submitted for the final grade 12 examination almost invariably contain elements of multimodality. The study is theoretically underpinned by constructivism, semiotics, socio-semiotics, systemic functional linguistics and critical discourse analysis.

The world view from which the study departs is constructivist and interpretivist, and is supported by a qualitative research design, using grounded theory as the overarching research strategy. Methods of data gathering include target group interviews as well as document and artefact analysis. The aim of the research is to establish which modes of representation contemporary artists prefer, how they combine these modes and how the affordances of different modes and media are exploited for the construction of meaning by the artist and the audience(s). The theory that emerges from the research will inform a framework for multimodality in arts education, with specific reference to art elective modules in the BEd (further education and training) programme.

Editor's comment
I hope you enjoyed the interview we conducted with Pieter. We wish to commend him for the work that he is doing in the field of art education and wish him good luck in his future endeavours.

Yvonne Burns
We would like to hear from you

Please forward information of your branch [and low-res pictures] to the SANAVA secretariat for inclusion in the newsletter.
SANAVA secretariat
Junxion Communications, e-mail, tel +27 82 551 4853, fax +27 86 615 4876