Anthony Harris is the kind of artist who believes in creating a flourishing space for creative growth.
It’s for this reason that he has put years into helping young artists, promoting their work alongside his own.
But, this year the 62-year-old artist is taking “me time” – time to focus on a number of exciting new projects, which include solo exhibitions and a major commission for a multinational mining company.
To do this, the artist – who studied fine art at Natal Technikon – will close ART Gallery, the Cuyler Street gallery he owns.
When he speaks about his new exhibitions and commissions there is a sense of excitement but when talking about closing the gallery there’s a touch of melancholy.
“Artists work in isolation and I will miss the interaction with the public,” he says.
Buy he knows he will need to focus to be able to tackle the work he will be undertaking this year. “If you can’t give it your all, don’t do it at all.”
He also realised that the time was right. “The timing is good to step back.”
“There are some lovely young guns with their hands in,” he says, speaking about Port Elizabeth artists like Bretten-Anne Moolman and Cedric Vanderlinden.
Stepping back does not mean bowing out though, says Harris, who adds that he will “still be around and still promote art. Just not on the administration side.”
It will be a busy year, with a solo exhibition, Harris’s 35th, opening at the William Humphrey Gallery in Kimberley on March 12 and another at the National Arts Festival in June.
And then there is the mining company commission for, “a company whose name I can’t mention yet”.
The company, headquartered in Delhi, has 32 offices, including in South Africa and Australia, and Harris will paint a piece for each office.
The pieces will follow the trend of Harris’s mapping series – a series that explores land issues, the concept of geologic time, social geography, political, culture and cultural identity.