THERE is a feast of ceramics to be enjoyed in the Bay this month, with some of South Africa’s leading artists showing both functional and conceptual work in two exhibitions that are well worth a visit.
The first, Legacy, is a travelling exhibition at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan Art Museum at 1 Park Drive until May 4. The second, Dinner for One, is at the ART Gallery at 51b Cuyler Street until April 5.
Curated by Franschhoek- based master potter David Walters, Legacy is a tribute to the late Professor Juliet Armstrong and the renowned ceramics studios of the University of KwaZulu-Natal, (UKZN), where she lectured for more than 30 years.
Armstrong died of a brain tumour within a matter of months and since the studios, established in 1937, are now also facing closure, an exhibition was curated to honour her and the many fine lecturers and alumni associated with the institution.
Walters invited ceramics graduates from UKZN and several of his own ceramicist acquaintances and friends to participate in Legacy, which also includes work by Eastern Cape ceramicists like Lynnley Watson, Delphine Niez and Donve Branch, as well as art museum director Dr Melanie Hillebrand who qualified at UKZN.
Katherine Glenday, Ian Garrett and Fee Halsted – founder of the acclaimed Ardmore ceramic studio in the Drakensberg – are among the many noted names whose work may be seen.
Among the standout pieces are Kim Bagley’s Tag II, a delicate work inspired by cattle ear markers which gallery visitors are encouraged to gently blow on for melodic effect; and Jonathan Keep’s intriguing ceramic forms generated on a 3D printer. Some of Walters’s own pieces are shown, as is one of Armstrong’s iconic Zulu pregnancy aprons and an ethereal bone-china vessel from the museum’s collection.
The exhibition at Anthony Harris’s nearby ART Gallery marks the fifth anniversary of Ceramics Southern Africa’s Eastern Cape branch and includes clever pieces like Branch’s rat-and roach-illustrated items, Lydia Holmes’s I am Hungry I nursery-rhyme inscribed plates and Billy McNaughton’s Fook Island Revisited.
Artists like Gregory Kerr and Bretten-Anne Heath-Moolman in turn responded by producing work related to the theme “Food for Thought”.
Pieces from both exhibitions are available for purchase. – Louise Liebenberg