Works in Progress Exhibition at the Jack Heath Gallery a Hit

Discover UKZN

From left: Postgraduate students Ms Jessica
Steytler, Mr Rory Klopper, Mr Clive Sithole
(well-known ceramist, currently an artist in
residence) and Ms Natasha Hawley.

The past week saw the opening of the Works in Progress exhibition at the Jack Heath Gallery at UKZN’s Centre for Visual Arts (CVA) on the Pietermaritzburg campus.

The exhibition featured works by Masters and PhD students as well as lecturers of the CVA, with emphasis being on the creative progress that has been made thus far in the academic year. The exhibition was put together by the students whose work is on show.

Masters student Ms Anda Dodo also took on the major task of lead curator of the exhibition. ‘As a postgrad student I was honoured that my colleagues trusted me to create a visual dialogue with works that were not complete. There is always a vulnerability with showcasing new art works to a crowd and not knowing how they will appreciate them.’

Dodo believes that being able to find visual connections in incomplete works shows that there is a harmony in the department and in the way that people work in their different mediums.

‘Putting the show together was something I really enjoyed as I would like to curate other shows in the future. The postgrads and staff involved were very helpful and because of them everything worked out well. It was a challenge that helped me realise so much about myself and because of the success of the show I am hoping to get another one up soon,’ she said.

Artist and Educator, Mr Moray Comrie, opened the event with a short but powerful speech. He pointed out to his audience that the arts and humanities are under threat in universities worldwide, and that a university that does not offer a full spectrum of arts and humanities’ courses is not a true university.

‘The Works in Progress exhibition demonstrates to me that the Arts at UKZN are vibrant and strong and show UKZN to be a true university,’ he said.

Comrie described the works on display as powerful, dynamic, technically strong and intellectually challenging, highlighting that both staff and students exhibiting together ‘is the product of collegial spirit.’

He further added that the ‘work in progress’ of the CVA today is the result of a rich heritage created by former staff members and that this heritage should not be squandered.

Having also seen the display of First Year work in the undergraduate studio, he noted that there is rich potential coming into the CVA, and that this, too, should not be squandered. ‘All art-making is a work in progress, we must keep going onwards and upwards,’ said Comrie.

One of the students who exhibited her work Ms Joanna Smart said: ‘Being a part of this exhibition was a great privilege and I was very pleased to see the great variety of styles and techniques available.’  Smart’s work comprises of two projects: where she examines the buildings of Durban and the other, entails the superimposition of fabrics (Indian, African and Persian) over these buildings that create a translucent layer, where the buildings can be seen beneath the textiles and ornaments.

Another student Ms Caroline Birch added, ‘It is exciting to be a part of this staff/ postgrad show. It is also challenging to choose and exhibit unfinished work. My work is about continuity of space, as solid matter is not really solid. This expands into the metaphor of space representing the presence of consciousness everywhere.’

Student Ms Natasha Hawley is currently dealing with concepts involving gathered material collections and their residual meaning once the owner has passed on. ‘I feel so privileged to be exhibiting alongside my friends and Lecturers, many known both locally and internationally for their work in ceramics. Our department has a valuable history and present legacy and I’m proud to be part of that and the art community around Pietermaritzburg.’

Speaking about her work that is on exhibit, Ms Kristin Yang said: “Always together, forever apart”. My idea came from a Chinese song “Flying bird and fish”. A flying bird in love with a fish underwater. In this installation work, I tried to explore and provide understanding of life and hope to balance the pain.’