Exhibitions galore – catch them before they close at end of August

Inna Joburg Photo Courtesy FADA

Inna Joburg. Photo: Courtesy FADA

There are several exciting exhibitions showing until the end of August. At the University of Johannesburg Bunting Road Campus is the VIAD FADA centre – a real mouthful when spelt out in full: Visual Identities in Art and Design Research Centre, part of the Faculty of Art, Design and Architecture.  And at the FADA gallery are two interesting installations which can be seen until 26th August.  In ‘The Front Room Inna Joburg’  British-born writer-artist-curator Michael McMillan, who is of Caribbean migrant heritage, recreates an African-Caribbean family front room which looks at ways in which tradition, modernity, and creolised culture intersect.   Apart from speaking about how Black British identity is established in the 1970s, the installation also deals with public and private space, status and aspiration in what McMillan calls ‘impression management’.  For more see http://www.viad.co.za/the-front-room-inna-joburg-by-michael-mcmillan/

Boat carrying first major wave of Caribbeans to England Photo Courtesy Huffington Post

Boat carrying first major wave of Caribbeans to England.  Photo: Courtesy Huffington Post

Running alongside Mcmillan’s installation is The Arrivants in which UK-based artist-designer-academic Christine Checinska investigates the relationship between culture, race and dress. The conceptual departure point for the work is the 1948 arrival of the Empire Windrush at London’s Tilbury Docks carrying some 500 Jamaican migrants –“colonial subjects invited by the government to assist in rebuilding post-war Britain – hoping to make a better life in the ‘Mother Country’.” The Empire Windrush’s arrival marked the first arrival in England  of large numbers of African-Caribbeans.  For more see http://www.viad.co.za/the-arrivants-by-christine-checinska/

There is an upcoming  public programme with a public walkabout of The Front Room Inna Joburg and The Arrivants with Michael McMillan on 17 August at  17h30 for 18h00. On the 18 August at 18h00 is the screening of the BBC4 documentary video, Tales from the Front Room, followed by discussion with Michael McMillan. Both events take place at the FADA gallery on the Bunting Rd Campus in Auckland Park

You can also make a trip to several galleries along #ROAM #RosebankArtMile which  have exhibitions closing at the end of August. 

Andrew Tshabangu from the Bridge Series 1998

Andrew Tshabangu from the Bridge Series 1998

Showing at Gallery MOMO until 29/08 is a group exhibition including works by Ayana V Jackosn, Mary Sibande and Andre Thsabangu one of whose works is seen on the left.

Keith Dietrich’s one-man exhibition Fragile Histories, Fugitive Lizamore Lives [Justice and Injustice at the Cape 1700-1800] as well as a group print exhibition both show at Lizamore and Associates until 27/08.  For some time now, Dietrich has been working with folded paper, texts and photographs. Drawing on information from some 1,220 trials that took place between 1692 and 1802 in the Cape, Dietrich’s artist’s book and four photomontage triptychs comment on the harsh sentences meted out by the Dutch East India Company.

Artists participating in the group exhibition include: Grace Mmabatho Mokalapa, Bevan de Wet, Titia Ballot, Pebofatso Mokoena, Philip Mabote, Lekau Matsena and Michael Selekane.

Gawie Joubert's 'Wondrously'

Gawie Joubert’s ‘Wondrously’

Showing at In Toto until  29/08 is Gawie Joubert in a one-man exhibition entitled Biophilia.  Authentic Thinkers is a group show of contemporary artists which runs at Priest Espresso Bar until 26 August.

Showing at the Goodman Gallery from 20/08 until 14/09 is Shirin

'Untitled' from 'The Roja' series

‘Untitled’ from ‘The Roja’ series

Neshat’s  Dreamers. Neshat is an Iranian-born artist and filmmaker living in New York. She has held major solo exhibitions in renowned international museums – such as the Tate, Serpentine, Guggenheim Bilbao & Whitney Museum of American Art. In this first solo exhibition on the African continent, she shows 2 new video installations Roja (2016) and Sarah (2016), including new photographs from the Roja series. As the title Dreamers suggests, the exhibition is based on aspects of the artist’s own dreams-  “I have been haunted by the power of dreams for years” says Neshat, “I am fascinated by how in a state of dream, the boundaries in between madness and sanity, reality and fiction, conscious and subconscious are blurred and broken” (2016).  For more see:  http://www.goodman-gallery.com/exhibitions/624

Matisse walkabouts

Matisse walkabouts

And of course don’t forget about those 2 most joyful of exhibitions : Matisse at the Standard Bank Gallery until 17th September.  There are regular walkabouts.  See http://www.lizatlancaster.co.za/blog/too-much-to-do-and-too-little-time  and Battiss at Wits Art Museum until 9th October.

We have guests staying at http://www.lizatlancaster.co.za who are particularly interested in contemporary Southern African art so they are delighted with all that is on offer.

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Guest Review: Liz at Lancaster in Craighall Park – great stay with children

Liz at Lancaster is lucky enough to have an amazing clientele. Lots of repeat guests many of whom have become almost like family as we welcome new members of the next generation to stay with us. A few weeks ago we had guests come back to stay after being out of South Africa for 10 years; some business guests book accommodation with us before they arrange their meeting dates; and others get out of the car on arrival and say ‘I’m home.’ A great compliment.  We are also fortunate to get very nice reviews on TripAdvisor. Recently a guest came to South Africa to adopt her second son (she already had a delightful adopted 6 year old) and her sister came out with her. What a lovely family. And Kim wrote such an extensive review of Liz at Lancaster and all the activities for children nearby that I thought I must post it.

From Kim [photos from Liz]:

Garden Cottage - originally an early 20th Century farm worker's cottage

Garden Cottage – originally an early 20th Century farm worker’s cottage

I was in South Africa from the U.S. to help my sister care for her two little boys (one newly adopted) and was fortunate that she arranged for us to stay at Liz@Lancaster. I was able to join her for two weeks and loved the accommodations there. She stayed in the cottage, and I was just a few yards away in the Earth Room. We each had our own little courtyards. She had a full kitchen/living room, bedroom, and bathroom. I had a studio with a partial kitchen and bathroom. It was beautifully furnished and extremely comfortable. The entire

Bird feeder in Liz at Lancaster's garden - seeds, nuts, fruit, suet and left over bread

Bird feeder in Liz at Lancaster’s garden – seeds, nuts, fruit, suet and left over bread

guesthouse is surrounded by a security wall and inner courtyard as well as a lovely garden (saw beautiful birds every morning at breakfast). There was also a pool, but we couldn’t use to due to our winter stay. We had a lovely breakfast every morning in a room overlooking the garden and pool. The food was amazing–best fried eggs I’ve ever had and a beautiful bowl of fresh fruit every morning. Liz, the owner, would stop by to ask us about our previous day and offer helpful suggestions about the day to come. I was impressed that the rooms were cleaned every day. Also, one of the staff members (Mr. T.) is often available to drive. When he wasn’t, Liz referred us to a trusted taxi driver who treated us very well.

Spar Grocery store at the end of the block - 5 minute walk from Liz at Lancaster

Spar Grocery store at the end of the block – 5 minute walk from Liz at Lancaster

The location of Liz@Lancaster was superb. We felt very safe and the neighborhood was lovely. We were only a five minute walk from the grocery store, Spar. We were able to walk to another shopping area with restaurants. In addition, Delta Cafe was only a 20 minute walk away (right next to a park). Liz told us about a restaurant named  

Jumping castle at AJ's in Craighall Park

Jumping castle at AJ’s in Craighall Park

A.J.s that was only about a 15 minute walk away that had a jumping castle for the little ones and good food–as well as drinks for the grown ups. 


The staff (Katherine, Thandy, Mr. T., and … forgetting all the names) was attentive and everybody was so sweet with my nephews. I would highly recommend Liz@Lancaster for anybody staying in the Joburg area. I look forward to a return trip to South Africa at some point and will definitely be staying with Liz!

Thank you Kim and we do so hope our paths will cross again as with Tracy, Isaac and Jonah.  What a privilege to be part of the joy.

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A day in the sun enriched by sculpture, friends and laughter

General streamI’m ashamed to admit this, but I’m sure I have more photos of Nirox general viewthan I do of my beloved grandchildren.  Well … I don’t think that is quite true but every time I come back from a visit to this most magnificent of places, that’s how it feels.   These grounds are so extraordinarily beautiful – whether in winter with the stark but delicate outlines of leafless trees, or in summer with the lushness of soft green lawns and dappled shade.


Deliberately low profile, one can only access Nirox when there is some event on – be it a sculpture fair or a music event. A group of us caught the end of the Winter Sculpture Fair A Place in Time which sadly finished this last week-end. I had expected that with an international curator (Clare Lilley of the Yorkshire Sculpture Park), the policy of an under-supply of information about works on display would have changed.  stone work in streamAn indication of artist, title, medium and a brief context would enable Sean Slemon Facing the sun Permanentboth visually illiterate and relatively knowledgeable people, a way of accessing works. Instead, one encounters bemused people peering over site-maps (with an incomplete and inaccurate list of works); turning the map upside down trying to orientate themselves; turning themselves around to get their bearings in relation to some landmark; closely examining freshly planted grass areas with steel protective barriers, large hose hydrants, and dead tree trunks embedded with nails … not knowing if they are looking at an artwork or a functional  piece of outdoor equipment or a little known gardening practice.  I have not met one person (both visually literate professionals (including artists) and completely visually uneducated members of the public) who has not had difficulty in reading the map; been frustrated that numbers do not correspond with works listed; and berated the lack of provision of an easily accessible catalogue with identifying images and basic information enabling some point of access to each work.

I don’t buy the argument that it is current curatorial practice to let the works speak for themselves – the more conceptual the art the more one needs some kind of hook or access point; or that ‘labels’/numbers get moved by the public – it can’t be too difficult to produce a cheap catalogue with identifying photos of each work ; or that it is too expensive and there are no funds to produce a proper catalogue – we paid R20 for a catalogue which could have been extended slightly  at minimal extra cost to include all works.   I have spoken to several artists all of whom have said that they supply explanatory texts so there is contextual information available.

Burchell's Songsmith

Burchell’s Songsmith

Burchell close up

Burchell’s Songsmith: site-specific rock, gold leaf, sound system and engraved image of ears and sound waves on the plinth

Having said all that, we loved Songsmith by Jenna Burchell – 3 interactive stone sculptures set on plinths at the far western end of the property.  Burchell takes ancient site-specific rocks and ‘repairs’ their fractures along the lines (forgive the pun) of the Japanese practice of Kintsukuroi (repairing with gold laquer). The Japanese philosophy is that something is more beautiful when broken and that damage and ageing should not be masked and hidden.  Burchell embeds site-specific sound instruments into the cracks and by combining the gold repair with technology and sound, the rocks resonate when the space around them is cradled in the hands of the viewer. Powerful, sensitive, beautiful, thought-provoking and utterly memorable.

Glistening Demoiselle out of Black Wattle/Glinsterjuffertjie uit Swartwattelboom)

Hannelie Coetzee’s Glistening Demoiselle out of Black Wattle/Glinsterjuffertjie uit Swartwattelboom)

Hannelie Coetzee started off as a photographer and in her massive site-specific installation Glistening Demoiselle out of Black Wattle, she chooses her site as a photographer would, taking account of light and view point.  She begins with a photograph and reduces the resolution to a point where it is only just legible and then she constructs a grid of pixels so that she can make the image on a massive scale.  The growth rings as well as the actual edges of the cut wattle function as pixels bringing the image of the glittering damsel/dragon fly into focus from a particular distance.   There is a symbolic paradox in the glinsterjufertjie or dragon fly, an indicator of a healthy environment, being made here of black wattle, an alien invasive species which destroys indigenous natural elements.

Hopefully this will be one of the works which will remain as a permanent addition to the Nirox Sculpture Foundation.


Coffee in the warm winter sun. All courtesy of Nirox

Coffee in the warm winter sun. All courtesy of Nirox

Nirox is an amazing facility so close to urbanized Joburg. We

Joni Brenner's large bronze Skull catching the last of the afternoon sun with monkeys foraging in the background

Joni Brenner’s amazing large bronze Skull catching the last of the afternoon sun with monkeys foraging in the background

enjoyed a cup of coffee provided on-the-house, wandered round the beautiful environment, engaged with the sculptures and at the end of the day, as the shadows grew long and the monkeys sat picking seeds in the grass and the air grew chilly we felt warm, fulfilled and restored.  Thank you Nirox, artists, friends and Highveld weather.

The next event where the Nirox Sculpture park is open to the public is Jazz in the Cradle on 4th September.   It will be definitely be Liz at Lancaster’s Pick of the Week and guests staying at Liz at Lancaster are sure to go.


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