SANAVA promotes visual arts, develops visual artists and furthers international cooperation in the field of the visual arts Newsletter Nº
August 2015
Dirkie's Dialogue...

Society is looking at creative ideas with increased appreciation. Ideas in the creative economy are rapidly becoming viewed as extremely valuable commodities. More than ever before, the world relies on human creativity to solve the many problems we have created, combat the threats of nature, refine elements of function and style, and simply make life more enjoyable.

Albert Einstein considered imagination to be more important than knowledge. He believed that knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.

Does that not strike a chord with you who have been postponing getting out those paints, clay, camera or pencils to start being creative? And you have a chance to earn some money! (Read SANAVA exco member, Barry Gibb's views in this regard).

Thank you for those branches that have responded to our call for the hosting of the subsidised art and business. We are extending the application time – let's have your response soonest! Contact Ben Rootman at the secretariat - 082 551 4853

The secretariat has virtually sorted out the residency booking system at the Cit̩ in Paris and will be communicating with those of you who have shown interest in going. We will also keep a short list of people who can go on short notice Рwatch this space!

With our brand new website up-and-running shortly, you will soon receive a request to update your branch or affiliate details and provide the secretariat with a link to your website and forward us your logo.

SANAVA would also love to receive news from your branch or affiliate.

Kind regards
Dirkie Offringa
National President
"This is an excellent project" – Living legend potter and painter Susan Sellschop.
Keeping art legends alive

The Department of Arts and Culture has invested R5 million to create opportunities for art legends to continue to have viable careers.

Arts and Culture Minister Nathi Mthethwa says the strategic objective of the Living Legends Legacy Project is to ensure that there is transfer of skills, knowledge and experience to the younger generation, while at the same time creating opportunities for the legends to continue to have a career in the arts sector.

"We believe that our living human treasures, the legends, have a fundamental role to play in assisting aspirant artists to hone their skills.

"We would like to see these legends playing a bigger role in offering master classes and providing mentorship to the youth as part of our incubator programmes," said Mthethwa. September is Heritage Month, themed 'Our indigenous knowledge, our heritage'.

Living legend Susan Sellschop says: "I think this is an excellent project. R5 million is a jolly good start. I think that it is important that the skills of the living legends must not be lost."

The 73-year-old woman is a potter and painter.

Founder of the Moving Into Dance Company, Sylvia Glasser, is positive about the investment for the living legends.

"I feel honoured to be at this gathering with the living icons. I am deeply moved," says Glasser.

South African jazz singer Letta Mbulu says the legends needed to make sure that a collective effort is made to ensure they all leave a solid legacy which will be remembered by their children.

Mthethwa said the department will ensure that for the next financial year the seed fund for the project will be R20 million.

"We want you to develop your own programmes - we do not want our icons to be beggars," he said.

The department was also encouraging the business sector to contribute towards the project.

"Our ultimate objective is to provide continued support and increase the Living Legends economic beneficiation prospects.

"We are merely balancing the scales of justice to ensure mutual beneficiation and stimulate a dynamic cross-generational interaction among the practitioners in the arts, culture and heritage sector."

Future plans for the project included the establishment of ministerial awards to recognise and honour the living legends for their work in various disciplines.

Living Legends Benefit concerts will be held and proceeds will go towards the Living Legends Trust Fund.

A publication, Book of Mzansi Legends, and a production of documentaries to document the work and trace the artistic journey of the selected legends, are also in the pipeline.
PPC Imaginarium Awards 2015

By providing support and promoting innovative thinking, The Imaginarium Awards aims to establish young emerging artists and designers as leaders in their industries.

Artists can enter in the categories architecture, fashion, industrial design, jewellery and sculpture.

The winner of each category receives R50 000 with the runners-up walking away with R15 000. Category winners will then be entered into the gala exhibition and stand the change to be named the PPC Imaginarium Champion – a title that comes with a R100 000 prize.

For more information visit
Applications for the 2015 Artists In Residency programme open

Each year, the Africa Centre provides artists with an opportunity to spend four to six weeks fully dedicated to developing their craft. This year 13 residencies are available through partnerships with residency programmes in Australia, Brazil, India, Italy, Kenya, Spain, Tanzania and the United States.

The Artists in Residency (AIR) programme is seeking applications from high calibre African artists who are provocative, innovative, socially engaged and stretching the boundaries of their artistic practice.

The AIR partners select an artist from a short list provided by the Africa Centre, for one of their 2015 or 2016 residencies. The residencies are available to artists in different stages of their career development - from emerging to late career - across all disciplines like visual, performing, creative and literary arts, film, music and curatorial practice. Each residency offers a distinct structure, set of requirements and duration.

The costs of the residency and round-trip airfare are included in each residency award.

The application deadline is 30 September.

For more information call Tambu Ndlovu on 021 418 3336, 072 480 5858, or visit
"Never be a snob about taking on odd art jobs to make an extra buck!" – Barry Gibb.
SANAVA's exco member Barry Gibb discusses his artistic career and interests

SANAVA Matters: Tell us about your career and interests.

Barry: My career and my interests both converge and diverge.

Nothing could be more divergent than my interest in rugby, cricket and once upon a time, boxing - brought to a halt by my spoiler mother - and my art.

Where my interests would later converge would be in tap dancing (for song and dance acts at school concerts), acting, amateur dramatics in my early years, both on and off stage, but with a passionate interest in films, particularly period pieces and sexily, sensual Hollywood musicals.

But, also in history and literature - my escapisms which have been largely crowded out now - classical music, I played the piano at concerts, and art - because I won prizes for it in each school year. But I never wanted to teach it.

However, after a year's display art at dear old Greenacres in downtown Durban, which I thoroughly enjoyed but felt half educated, I ended up teaching – the idea of school holidays with time to follow my other interests helped convince me that teaching might be my best option.

Being appointed head of an art school allowed me to choose my subjects to incorporate my interests. Drawing and painting involved working late at night with my students - I was far more creative working with my students than painting on my own.

Teaching art history and my style of anatomy converged with my desire to be on the stage. In my art history lectures I include feature films (musicals to dramas) and documentaries from all periods covering all of my interests.

Three times a year I take up brush, pastel or pencil to contribute to our three ELFAS annuals. But oh, how I wish I could do all simultaneously without one thing pulling against the other!

SANAVA Matters: Tell us a bit about the Eastern Cape art scene.

Barry: I would be in a better position to answer that if I lived in Port Elizabeth, which has largely absorbed the rich crop of Rhodes students and lecturers of the Grahamstown group which blossomed from the mid to late 20th century.

But when an overseas lecturer brought conceptualism to Rhodes, I think it lost its prime position of having the strongest regional style in the country. By now it may have changed.

To mention names becomes too personal for me living here, but the Walter Sisulu University students' work improves year by year, voicing the joys and personal concerns of township life from the inside, often night scenes into courtyards rather than the usual collaged views of squatter camps, through painting, graphics and some of the most expressive off-beat sculpture I have seen, with no holds barred.

Their works say something about themselves - their thoughts, lusts, fears, pleasures and their environment. Many of them are now struggling to find jobs as they haven't a clue as to how to market themselves.

In our area we have a couple of established icons like Maureen Quinn's powerfully creative sculpture and Marlene Newman's unique, semi monotone art photography.

The East London Tech Art School, while under Jack Lugg, produced some of the country's top artists like Norman Catherine, Raymond Andrews and so on, who I had the pleasure of teaching. To mention any more would be stepping on the toes of others.

Jack Lugg himself produced a unique, often humorous view of the rural life around East London, which he referred to as his "Transkei". Two notable landscape painters who capture the character of the East London area, each in their own uniquely detailed manner, are Greg Schultz and Charles Felmore. I dare say no more.

In this sometimes forgotten corner of the country, artists do not have the stimulus given by exhibitions of South Africa's avant garde. The artists we do produce are lured to the big cities where they can be truly appreciated and publicised - and able to sell their works for acceptable prices.

SANAVA Matters: What advice would you give a young artist?

Barry: I would say a young artist should acquire familiarity with as many techniques and materials as possible, making marks with and on them before applying them to drawn objects (simple ones first), arranged to lead the eye from one section to another, learning composition through tonal and colour passages while regularly practicing proportion.

Then, I would advise the young artist to find his/her forte and develop it - maybe through experimenting with one object or composition, possibly taking them into abstraction, maybe adding collage materials and taking it into different directions or a section of it, into ultra-realism or something else.

Having found a forte or personal style, it should be developed it into a saleable commodity. Market it, but don't stop developing it, or find a job or pension that allows for a self-expression in your art regardless of whether it will sell or not.

An ideal would be a day job in commercial design to earn a living while developing one's creativity in one's spare time - making sure you have enough spare time for the task!

Commercial and fine art can inter-influence each other. Never be a snob about taking on odd art jobs to make an extra buck. There are too many preciously self -absorbed noble beggars in the art world!
New South African Handbook on Arts and Culture available

The 2015/16 edition of the South African Handbook on Arts and Culture – an indispensable information source for contemporary arts and culture practitioners – is out.

The handbook is published by the African Arts Institute with the National Arts Council of South Africa as the primary partner.

More than 500 pages, the handbook provides users with sufficient information to act in their respective interests in an informed manner, or to be guided as to where the information they are looking for, may be found.

The book costs R295 which includes VAT but excludes packaging and shipping. Orders of 10-99 copies get a ten percent discount and those of 100 or more a 15 percent discount.

Provincial launches are planned in Cape Town, the Nelson Mandela Metro, Durban, Polokwane, Johannesburg, Tshwane, Kimberley, Bloemfontein, Mahikeng and Nelspruit.

Should you wish to be informed of these launches or how to otherwise obtain a copy should you be unable to attend a launch, send an e-mail to
6th Lessedra international painting & mixed media competition is open

The 6th international painting, drawing, collage, watercolour, photographs, digital and mixed media competition, organised by the Lessedra Gallery and Contemporary Art Projects in Sofia, Bulgaria is open for entries.

This international competition calls for a variety of art mediums from all over the world, contributing to contact and exchange between artists, art lovers and collectors.

It is about the quality of art, not the size - the maximum dimensions of a work are 15 x 15 cm.

The first prize is USD 300 and the purchase of work(s) by additional agreement and invitation for a solo presentation of the artist in conjunction with the next annual exhibition.

The second prize is USD 100 and the purchase of work(s) by additional agreement and the third prize is USD 100 and the purchase of work(s) by additional agreement.

Entries are accepted from September until 10 November 2015.

For more information visit and entry forms visit
Altered Realities on exhibition at Arts Association, Pretoria

Altered Realities, curated by Johan Conradie, is an exhibition of the works of 26 contemporary artists using mixed media, digital and other software-techniques to create 'altered realities', merging richly symbolic images both personal and archetypal.

Straddling the thin sliver of space between reality and imagination, these artists create inner visions to expose and explore the dreams and fantasies of the human mind. In true surrealistic fashion, they delight in linking together seemingly unrelated and even absurd objects to question the rational order of the world.

The exhibition is on until 9 September.

For more information call 012 346 3100,
Gretha Helberg exhibiting in Langebaan

The Hopeflied artist Gretha Helberg's exhibition 'Atmosphere' is on at the Pumpkin House Gallery in Langebaan on the West Coast.

For more information call Hanli on 082 853 8187.
What happened to Esther Mahlangu?

Remember the Ndebele painted BMW, the British Airways Boeing tail and the multi-coloured village houses?

Ndebele art lives on
Morrel Shilenge
Mahala, 3 July 2015

Esther 'Gogo' Mahlangu is believed to be the most important Ndebele artist working today. From painting walls with feathers and twigs in Mabhoko Village to doing a paint job on a BMW for a New York gallery, I was lucky enough to have the 80-year old legend take me on a journey through her expansive artistic career. Spending a few days in her presence was a similar experience that I often have with my own gogo – a time filled with wisdom, stories and laughter...

The moment I arrived at her home, Esther invited me to one of her huts and just spoke for hours – allowing me to ask any question in my broken Ndebele, Xhosa and Sepedi. So, where did it all begin?

Esther's house in Mabhoko Village.
Esther was taught to paint by her mother and grandmother at the age of ten and underwent the traditional Ndebele practice in which young women are cloistered from society for a few months and taught the traditional craft of beadwork. She has since become an expert and an authority figure in executing the traditional Ndebele art of wall painting in South Africa - an art form traditionally only done by women on special occasions. These early lessons would later serve as a training ground for her artistic career and to this day she remains true to the Ndebele traditions because she doesn't want them to vanish.

Esther has become internationally recognised for her work and over the years has received commissions from all around the world. She always travels in her neck-hands and leg steel bangles and told me that at airports they will always search her. She told me about all the many places she has visited and that 'Gogo' is now on her fifth passport...

What's unique about Gogo's work is that although it is heavily rooted in tradition, she is not opposed to evolving and expanding the art form. In the past, Ndebele painting was reserved for the outer walls of houses but Esther is one of the first artists to transfer these traditional designs to canvas and other mediums – making her an Ndebele art pioneer.

Esther's completed BMW art work. Image © Wikimedia Commons
British Airways Boeing. Image © Wikimedia Commons
In 1991, Esther coated the entire bodywork of a BMW 525i, for the first time, with bright colours and clearly distinguishable geometric shapes typical of Ndebele tribal art. She was also the first South African to have her work exhibited at the Museum of Arts and Design in New York in 2010.

Since then she has taken her work to the stratosphere having been commissioned to paint the tail of a British Airways Boeing. In 2014 she was also commissioned by the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in the USA to create two large works of art. Esther has begun to transpose her art on canvas, shoes, sculptures, ceramics and other modern materials. What's astounding about her work is that despite the varied canvases she paints on, she still paints freehand without prior measurement or sketches and continues to use feathers and bundles of twigs as brushes – the old-school way.

Esther signs her completed BMW artwork. Image © BMW Group
Esther's artwork on ceramics.
Despite being an internationally recognised artist, Gogo still lives in Mabhoko Village in KwaMlanga, Mpumalanga and does her chores like any ordinary Gogo in the village – sweeping her yard early in the morning, cooking and teaching young people Ndebele art. Before I left, I asked her how she still does it all on her own at her tender age of 80 to which she simply replied - by keeping busy and surrounding herself with her grandchildren.

A warm, good hearted and down to earth woman – Esther understands that things change and culture evolves. Her story is one of legends and her contribution to the preservation and expansion of Ndebele artistic and cultural heritage is worth telling a thousand times.

We can't wait for Gogo to start bombing billboards next...
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