SANAVA promotes visual arts, develops visual artists and furthers international cooperation in the field of the visual arts Newsletter Nº
April 2016
21
 
Dirkie's Dialogue

I love cartoons and animated films, yes, the Schreks, Tin Tin, Wall-E, etc. but do you know that animation can be really serious stuff? And South African animation artists are at the forefront. Those of you, who enjoy surfing the web, visit www.animationsa.org.

Animation can be recorded with either analogue media, a flip book, motion picture film, video tape, digital media, including formats with animated GIF, Flash animation and digital video. To display animation, a digital camera, computer, or projector are used along with new technologies that are produced. In this edition you will see some profound short films.

In the March SANAVA Matters you will have read about the consultations regarding norms and standards for the South African Visual Arts which are being undertaken by VANSA. This does not mean that artists will be told what to do! The intention of the norms and standards document is to provide a guide for professional practice, activity and conduct of all practitioners in the field. While most of this document will not be legislated (other than some areas such as copyright, labour law, etc.) it should serve as a key reference to turn to before, during and after a professional process and we hope it will be consulted widely.

This draft document serves as a guide for discussion and recommendations of the broader arts community into the Norms and Standards Guideline for the Visual Arts in South Africa.

Please remember to let the SANAVA secretariat have your proxy forms (see SANAVA Matters of March 2016) if your branch is unable to send a delegate to the SANAVA AGM to be held in Durbanville on 18 June. But we hope to see you en masse!

Kind regards
Dirkie Offringa
National President
 
Go see - Block A, Thokoza Women's Hostel

Angela Buckland's Block A, Thokoza Women's Hostel is a poignant installation of photographic works that reflect the lives of the young and elderly women who inhabit Durban's oldest female hostel.

Buckland is an accomplished fine art photographer with an established reputation and many local and international exhibitions to her credit. She qualified in South Africa and the United Kingdom and has many years of teaching experience at tertiary level.

Her sensitively observed portrait vignettes of female residents of the women-only hostel in downtown Durban give us a view into their lives, dreams and stories and the tiny spaces they are allotted - spaces that each woman has made into and call her home.

Buckland's personal work focuses on the private histories of ordinary people – their interaction with friends, lovers, families and strangers – the need for connectedness and a sense of belonging. She works fast and engages intuitively with her subject, seeking an emotional veracity, rather than an objective truth – seeing the image and acting in the moment. As a photographer she rejects rules and challenges herself with self-imposed constraints.

Durban is a bustling seaport drawing thousands of people from South Africa's rural areas and other African countries. All these migrants arrive to pursue their dreams of finding opportunities to build a better future. They settle in the inner city, the townships and the many informal settlement areas in and around the city.

The history of the hostels goes back to the early 1900s – the colonial era. They became pools of labour for businesses, factories and shipping industries. In the 22 years since South Africa became a democracy, the hostels have continued to reflect the reality of a still active migrant labour system, and the sad, inadequate response to our critical housing shortage. The hostels are still single-sex residences, designated as men-only or women-only hostels. In Block A, Thokoza Women's Hostel, this status is jealously guarded by the women who live there.

In his 2011 Under Control text, Professor Rodney Harber writes, "The oldest wing Block A, was the first women's hostel in South Africa, built in 1925. With over 5 000 residents per hectare it is the most densely inhabited residential site in the city, crowded with women seeking independence and a safe haven from a male dominated society."

This photographic installation was developed after the completion of Buckland's previous installation, Block A, Jacob's Men's Hostel.

Buckland says, "I was stimulated to engage with the women who inhabit this women only hostel. I was curious to learn about how they lived and explore how their living spaces reflected their perceptions of themselves, of their dreams and their lives; women who are living and working far from their original homes and families."

In the process of undertaking this work, Buckland became fascinated by the women occupying the hostel and the hierarchies that have developed within this unique, closed female society.

"During the process of photographing I was witness to the intimate details and objects the women used to express themselves and their individualism within their limited allotted personal spaces, which are only their beds, in the hostel. I was intrigued by how each resident would strive to personalise her bed space to give it a unique identity – one reflective of herself and her persona. This space was all she was allocated within the cramped living quarters of the hostel. This small area becomes her sleeping quarters, her lounge, kitchen, cupboard, her work and office space and her refuge from the hard realities of the city."

Says Joanna Lees, an architect, and housing and urban development specialist, practicing in Durban, "Buckland's work presents an image of the hostel that reveals human richness, and a complex social order, even in an impoverished place."

This series of unique and compelling works are at the same time visually exquisite and poignant reflections of a community few of us are aware still exists in our "new" South Africa.

Buckland's touring exhibition Block A, Thokoza Women's Hostel has been shown at the Durban Art Gallery. It was selected to be exhibited at the Iziko South African National Gallery, Cape Town during the 2014 Month of Photography (MOPS) Festival. During the festival the artist also conducted a photographic workshop. In 2015 the work was presented at the North West University Gallery, Potchefstroom. The showing at the Pretoria Art Museum is the final exhibition of the tour.

The exhibition is on until 26 June, South Gallery, Pretoria Art Museum, corner Francis Baard and Wessels Streets, Arcadia Park, Arcadia.

Telephone 012 358 6750, art.museum@tshwane.gov.za
 
Voyage II, corten steel, stainless steel and bronze. Acquired 1989 Pretoria Art Museum Collection
Hamba Kahle David

"The sea was a place of freedom for him and my small comfort was that he died doing something he loved, alone but not alone, and part of something magnificent." Pippa Skotnes

It was with great sadness that the staff at the Pretoria Art Museum and the art society learned of the untimely death of well-known sculptor, David Brown, on Friday, 18 March at the age of 65. Brown was an important resistance artist and one of South Africa's most important sculptors. Brown passed away while surfing at Muizenberg.

Our condolences go to his wife and artist Pippa Skotnes, and family. He will be sadly missed.
 
Arend Louw exhibition at Stone Fish Studio Paternoster

Di Heesom-Green

Arend Louw's latest body of work is his strongest yet. His description below is beautifully endorsed by his oil painting. Memories stir when viewing shadowed homes and old bones.

"For every painting I wait for the right light. That 'golden hour' just before the sunsets, waiting to capture the everyday, sometimes overlooked, landscapes, buildings and objects.

"On my travels throughout South Africa I focus on specific themes that catch my eye. From old buildings, sometimes forgotten, sometimes living new lives, or perhaps a collection of broken pottery on a farm.

"Each painting is created with intent. Not just to please the viewer but to convey the specific impression that the moment had on me."

Watch out for his next exhibition 'Portraits'. This exhibition is a challenge by a close friend who noted not one person appears in his latest exhibition. I can't wait to view it!
 
On portraits and nudes

Stone Fish Studio is proud to host Andries Gouws in another of his excellent oil painting workshops.

From Monday, 30 May, this five day workshop addresses the following common issues facing the artist. Andries in his own unique style, helps individual painters with particular areas, improving skills and extending his/her painting techniques.

"Because many of the issues here do not relate specifically to colour, this workshop includes quite a bit of drawing. Some people even choose to stick to drawing, and not do any painting at all during this workshop. As always, I won't impose my own vision of how one should paint, but respond to each individual way of working.

"However, we will also attend to some issues, with which many people have difficulty. These include mastering tonality and capturing three dimensionality.

"I'll discuss the classical approach to the volumes of the body, found for instance in most classical Greek sculpture - conceiving the face and body as consisting entirely of convex shapes.

Common errors or problems such as misunderstanding the shape of the skull, eyes and eyebrows, nose, mouth, the neck and how it relates to the spine. We tend to separate the thing named from the whole of which it is a part, perhaps because we have separate words for "nose", "mouth", "neck", etc.

There is also a mismatch between how one paints the hair and how one paints the rest, how one paints the face and how one paints the body, or clothes, how one paints the face and body, and how one paints the background."

There will be live models included in the course fee. On the first two days we use a clothed model, focusing on the face though participants need not limit themselves to the face, neck and shoulders. On the last three days we use a nude model.

Lunch each day is also included.

Booking is essential. Please phone Di on 082 8248917 or email dheesomgreen@gmail.com to book.

Price per person R3 200.

Once a 50% deposit has secured your place, further details on materials, accommodation and times will follow.
 
PPC Imaginarium is calling for entries

The PPC Imaginarium Awards are once again calling for entries! The competition is open to emerging artists and creatives who are South African citizens, residents, or foreign students with study permits.

Contestants can submit work in these categories - industrial design, jewellery, film, sculpture, architecture and fashion.

Throughout the competition, entrants will receive extensive media coverage, exposing their work to the world and helping them kick start their careers. Each category winner will receive a R50 000 cash prize, while runners-up walk away with a R15 000 merit award. The PPC Imaginarium Champion will win the grand prize of R100 000.

The Imaginarium is a great platform providing support for emerging creative talent, and a chance to develop careers through recognition, financial support, mentorship and guidance.

Do you have what it takes to be the next PPC Imaginarium Champion? Entries for the PPC Imaginarium Awards 2016/2017 are now open.
 
Call for design submissions

Are you part of a new wave of collectible SA design?
Southern Guild is calling for submissions of one-off, never-before-seen, collectible design pieces from South Africa's new generation of designers.

What is Southern Guild?
Launched in 2008, Southern Guild has become the most significant forum for collectible, limited-edition contemporary South African design. Exhibiting furniture, ceramics, lighting and sculpture, the gallery has become synonymous with ground breaking, significant work on the local and international design-fair circuit.

What is collectible design?
Collectible design is the term used for highly crafted design pieces that are either one-off or part of a limited edition. These products are valued for their considered design, high-quality production levels and functionality as well as their unique beauty. Prized by collectors, these items increase in value over time as they are produced in small numbers and are not everyday production pieces.

Do you want to be part of A New Wave at Southern Guild?
In the latter part of 2016, Southern Guild will show never-before-seen collectible design from South Africa's best young designers in a show titled A New Wave. We're looking for new talent to be considered for this exhibition to be held in our Cape Town gallery in Woodstock, adding to the emerging design narrative in South Africa. Curated by founders Trevyn and Julian McGowan, the Southern Guild collection has been shown around the world. Pieces from A New Wave have the potential to travel far.

Yes?
Submit a maximum of five images of the one-off or limited-edition piece, with dimensions and description of materials and inspiration (1MB each will suffice). Should your piece not be complete, send comprehensive plans, renders and drawings of the proposed product, with dimensions and description of materials and inspiration.

The piece should be a new, functional product, in line with the requirements for collectible design. No funding is available for production. Work should not have been previously exhibited. Designers should be under 40 years of age and be based in South Africa or neighbouring countries. Submit a bio of 150 words about the designer.

Send submissions to Kerri at kerri@southernguild.co.za with "A New Wave submission" and your name in the subject line by 9 May.

Successful applicants will be informed by 13 May and will have eight weeks to complete their piece.

Telephone 021 461 2856 / 2097, www.southernguild.co.za.
 
SANAVA Matters special
Dryfsand: a creative duo

Multi-talented Diek Grobler

Diek Grobler is a multi-talented and versatile artist who has worked in many mediums, including performance, ceramics, scraperboard, painting and animation. He is currently working on his PhD in Visual Arts at UNISA on the relation between animation and poetry, but keeps his feet on the ground by growing vegetables. Diek tells us more about his recent work in animation.

In 2014 I undertook a project as artistic director of Filmverse, in collaboration with the ATKV (Afrikaanse Taal en Kultuurvereniging). The project comprises twelve animated films inspired by twelve Afrikaans poems made by twelve individual artists. This project was a huge success with films of international quality being produced. Four of the twelve films have been screened at international animation festivals. Of particular interest is Naomi van Niekerk's film 'n Gewone Blou Maandagoggend, after the poem by Ronelda Kamfer. This film was selected to compete on the Annecy International Animation Festival – one of the most important animation festivals in the world.

This year we are producing Filmverse 2, filming another twelve poems. Since there is hardly an independent animation industry in this country, training was of great importance for this project: last year I presented animation workshops in Gauteng and Stellenbosch, and I continue to provide assistance and technical support to the artists throughout the duration of the production period. Several visual artists who have never worked in animation before have become involved, like Anni Snyman, Marinda du Toit and Alida Bothma.

As far as my own animation is concerned, I am doing a practice based PhD which will entail the creation of four short films, inspired by poems by Eugene Marais, Martjie Bosman, Fransi Phillips and Carina van der Walt. I hope to explore narrative strategies in animation, as it pertains to poetry - poetry does not present the filmmaker with a linear narrative, but rather a symbolical or metaphorical one. An animated poem does not merely illustrate the words of a poet, but must attempt to visually recreate the feelings evoked by the poem.

You asked about frustrations in the arts field? People still do not recognise and acknowledge the artist's knowledge, skill, labour and creativity. I am also irritated by the general ignorance of the arts. In the animation industry in particular, there are many decision makers with not an inkling of what the discipline truly involves and how wide-ranging it is. In the art world there is likewise an ignorance of animation as art form despite William Kenbridge's international status – which initially stemmed from his animated films.

What I still want to do? The Filmverse project was a dream I had had for some time and which is now being fulfilled. To be an animation artist is a lonely job and my aim was to create a platform for independent animation films, to enable artists to make creative films - with funding – but not be hampered by commercial principles and requirements. However, it is also important, when such a film is completed, to create a platform where it can be screened. This we were able to do by making the films accessible on DVD and screening them at almost all the local arts festivals as well as at two festivals in the Netherlands. I had entered the films for various international film festivals and our success has been heartening. Some of the films competed individually in the Netherlands, Russia, Portugal and France. The short films from Filmverse are also currently screening individually on Via, an Afrikaans lifestyle channel on Dstv.

I hope to continue with Filmverse for another couple of years until we have a well set up group of artists who can tell stories by way of animation. And I mean serious stories, not cartoons created purely for entertainment. I hope to make many more films, and maybe one day an animated feature film on some serious topic. Without any big-eyed animals that talk with American accents.

Do I have advice for the arts powers that be? I would rather offer advice to artists: the bureaucracy one is entangled in when you apply for support from national arts funding is humiliating and hardly worthwhile. Better to try and do things yourself.

The Filmverse DVD costs R100 and may be ordered from Hannelie van Schalwyk.

Dryfsand

Sand animator Naomi van Niekerk was thrilled when her first film – a stop-motion short entitled 'n Gewone Blou Maandagoggend, (an ordinary Blue Monday Morning) based on a poem by Ronelda Kamfer, was one of 200 films chosen from among 2600 entries to be screened in competition at The Annecy International Animated Film Festival this year, making her one of three local filmmakers to be given this accolade in 2016.

"I started using a light box in live performances in 2013. Diek Grobler, Creative Director of Filmverse, came to see one of my shows and then encouraged me to apply for Filmverse, which asked animation filmmakers to create films inspired by acclaimed Afrikaans poems", says Naomi.

Artist duo Naomi van Niekerk and Arnaud van Vliet work together under the moniker Dryfsand. In their live multi-media performances they use puppetry, shadow-play and dark sand on a light box as 'ink', Naomi ingeniously creates beautifully evocative monochrome sand drawings by shifting the grains with her hands, an assortment of brushes, combs and fine tools, together with live musical soundscapes by Arnaud. Both accomplished artists in their respective fields of multi-media performance and music, the notion of impermanence is central to their individual practices and strongly influences their work together as Dryfsand. Rather than working towards a finite end point, Dryfsand celebrates the fluidity between each frame where the shifting sand dissolves one image to make way for the next.

Naomi van Niekerk is a multi-media artist and works in puppeteering, set design, performance and animation. She started as a performer and set designer but after having studied puppetry in France and touring her projects to festivals across Europe from Avignon to Bialystok, she now enjoys listening to podcasts while making stop motion films in her studio in Joburg.

Arnaud van Vliet is a performing musician, composer and music producer, specialising in classical and rock guitar. He has performed extensively throughout South Africa at all major music festivals and venues. In parallel to his public career as a performing artist Arnaud has been composing music in his studio, most of this experimental work that combines an eclectic combination of genres and styles.

Naomi and Arnaud started working together in 2012. Their first collaboration was the multi-media project 'Sfeer' (2013) followed by 'Kontinuum' (2014) and most recently 'The Impermanence Museum' that was performed at GoetheonMain in central Johannesburg. They have performed their work at a variety of events and spaces - art galleries, industrial spaces, music festivals as well as theatres. Their work continues to tour to festivals, small towns and lounges nationwide.

Tell us about the name Dryfsand – how did it come about and in what ways does it encapsulates what you do?
The direct translation of 'dryfsand' would be drifting sand but it is also the Afrikaans word for quick sand. I work with sand animation making it easy for people to remember the name. Like quick sand we would like to draw our viewers in (the unsuspecting travellers) unexpectedly. The tone of our work is also quite dreamy and pensive.

What prompted you to begin working together and exploring the convergence of your different disciplines?
Arnaud and I have been friends for many years. When I returned from France I wrote a short solo work called Epitaphe and needed a soundtrack. The work was about memory so Arnaud and I started to interview people asking them to tell us their most memorable travelling experiences. We used these interviews as a basis of a soundtrack that complemented the objects and visuals for that piece. Seeing as Arnaud's music is quite filmic it made sense for us to continue our collaboration. We have collaborated on numerous projects since the staging of Epitaphe in 2013.

Your multi-media works includes performance, drawing, projections, puppetry, music, video, stop-motion and soundscapes. What do you each find most exciting about this multifaceted approach?
I easily get bored doing only one thing so working in more than one medium keeps me busy and focused. It is nice to work for three months on a drawn animation film and then to sculpt with clay for a while to make a puppet. It is also very exciting when these mediums converge to create a 'gesamentskunstwerk'... Arnaud would incessantly make field recordings when we're on the road. When those found sounds are added to an animation film it makes the drawings come to life. I guess we are lucky to each have different skills that we can combine.

How did you first start using sand as an illustration tool?
When I lived in France my favourite past time was drawing in cafés in the evenings. By the end of my second year when we had to present ideas for our solo works I had a cupboard full of drawings. My lecturer encouraged me to find a way to incorporate my drawings into my live performances. I then started to look at sand animation filmmakers such as Caroline Leaf. After I saw her film The owl who married a goose I knew that it was a medium I had to explore. The idea stuck and the first thing I did when I returned to Joburg was ask Arnaud to build a light table.

What about this unusual medium appeals to you?
Its transformative properties. I use very fine dark sand that almost looks like ink on camera. With a brush or a toothpick I can make delicate marks that can be shifted ever so slightly to create the animation. I am a big fan of monochrome drawings such as the wood block prints of Franz Masereel, with the sand I can create similar stark black and white lines that are easy to erase and to change if I am not satisfied with the composition.

Unlike illustrations in ink or paint, your sand drawings are shifting and ephemeral. Can you tell us about the notion of impermanence in your practice?
Because I am constantly working on the same surface it is inevitable that a scene has to be destroyed for a new drawing to emerge. This is quite liberating since I am never intimidated by the blank page. I normally start by throwing a handful of sand on the table and then scratching into it until I am happy with the scene. The only trace kept of my work is the digital image captured on camera. I am very notorious when filming my work as once it is erased it ends up in the dustpan and is impossible to retrieve. The notion of impermanence has also become an important theme in my work such as in The Impermanence Museum, a 20-minute film that looks at impermanence in relation to Johannesburg as a city. View the following two videos: The Impermanence Museum (an excerpt of..) and The combination of things.

While each frame of an animation is important, the transition into the next is equally so. Can you visualise how this will play out or is it a process of working through different options?
A bit of both. For some films such as 'n Gewone blou Maandagoggend I would storyboard a couple of scenes and then figure out the transitions, sometimes the transition would determine the subsequent scene. But often the most poetic transitions are discovered while drawing the scene.

How do new works begin? Is it very collaborative, do you improvise, do you each develop ideas on your own and then merge them together?
New works often evolve from long conversations. We both read a lot and listen to a lot of podcasts. For example The Impermanence Museum evolved from a mutual interest in how our practice as performing artist is impermanent by nature. After conversing we would each develop ideas separately and then merge them in the rehearsal process.

In today's world of life-like CGI and augmented and virtual reality, your aesthetic and approach has a distinctly lo-fi and inventive, almost archaic quality about it. Is this something that's intentional? Please tell us a little more about this.
Well, yes it is definitely intentional. Being a puppeteer I have an affinity for objects and raw materials. I enjoy the tactileness of the sand and the paper and there is an earthiness and a warmth within these lo-fi objects. It is their imperfection that conveys emotion in a different way to CGI. The work of Ray Harryhausen, one of the fathers of stop motion has stood the test of time and has inspired generations of filmmakers. I think we connect differently with real objects than we do with CGI animations.

You've just returned from the Krok International Animation Film Festival. Have you gained any fresh perspectives on your work after seeing it screened alongside films from all over the world?
Yes most definitely. Having a film screened at KROK was a huge honour for me as I was surrounded by the best of the best animators from all over the world who often work with big studios. It was a very humbling and inspiring experience. Looking at my own work, 'n Gewone blou Maandagoggend (translated as An ordinary blue Monday), a film based on the poem by Ronelda Kamfer that tells the story of the everyday life in a ghetto, confirmed how important a strong story is when entering a film into international festivals. I also saw that the low-fi approach still has an important place in the animation film industry.

Can you give us a birds-eye view of your show Kontinuum that you'll be performing at PopArt?
It is a story about a long distance relationship presented in the form of an animated graphic novel. The show consists of live drawing, some prerecorded animation sequences and live music. The music of Kontinuum is quite special as most of it is performed on a 1936 lapsteel guitar. View a short trailer of 'Kontinuum'.

What do you hope audiences take away from your work?
We want to give our audience something to reflect on, for them to access that space of introspection, like when you take in a walk in the park and your thoughts drift freely... that peacefulness that you experience of just being in the moment. We hope that our music and images will linger in people's minds and that it will give them something to ponder on.
 
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 ben@thejcs.co.za, tel +27 82 551 4853, fax +27 86 615 4876