Artist Proof Studio:an affordable place to start a collection

Artist Proof Studio is the amazing community based arts organization founded by Kim Berman and Nhlanhla Xaba (who died tragically in 2003). During the 1980s Kim Berman spent several years as an intern in women’s communal printmaking studio called Artist Proof Print Cooperative in Boston. Following the unbanning of the ANC and the release of political prisoners, Berman returned to South Africa in 1991. She brought with her a French Tool etching press (the ‘Rolls Royce of printing presses’) and the right to use the name Artist Proof Studio.  

Xaba in the meantime had been involved in the Khula Edweba art training at the Open School in Pimville and at the Soweto Neighbourhood Museum. Berman and Xaba met when Xaba was exhibiting at her mother’s exhibition space, the Berman Gallery in Braamfontein.  Xaba recruited artists like Helen Sebedi, Vincent Baloyi, Charles Nkosi as well as graduates from FUBA (the Federated Union of Black Artists).  Tragically Xaba died in 2003 after a fire broke out in the warehouse space of the studio.  

APS activities include

  • a three-year printmaking-training program
  • and post-graduate internships and assistantship
  • accredited training qualifications, skills certificates
  • an art gallery with loads of excellent prints on sale
  • print studio spaces used by top established artists (who did not train at the APS as such): Willem Boshoff,  Helen Sebedi, Dianne Victor, Clive van den Berg, David Koloane, Deborah Bell, William Kentridge, Wim Botha, Joel Mpah Dooh, Walter Oltmann, Colbert Mashile, Marco Cianfanelli, Gerhard and Maja Marx and many others
  • artists residencies
  • exchange programmes with printmaking and papermaking studios around the world
  • community outreach programmes such as Phumani Paper and Paper Prayers

Training around  80 to 100 students yearly in drawing, printmaking, business skills and visual literacy – the Artist Proof Studio creates a huge impact on the visual arts in South Africa. Philemon Hlungwane, Nelson Makamo, Lehlogonolo Mashaba, Paul MoleteBlessing Ngobeni , Bambo Sibiya, Mongezi Ncaphayi, Lebohang Motaung Lindo Zwane all  trained at APS and now have self-sustaining careers. 

Inspirational Kim Berman says those at Artist Proof Studio are guided by a challenge issued by Mamphela Ramphele: “The question each one of us must ask every day is whether we are giving the best we can to enable our society to transcend the present and become its envisaged self.” [Mamphela Ramphele, Laying Ghosts to Rest, 2008, p. 311]

Berman goes on to say that ‘a response to this requires imagination, aspiration and resilience and a process of self-creation’.   And Kim certainly leads by example. 

Works can be bought from changing exhibitions as well as those in the storage boxes. Source: Liz at Lancaster Guesthouse

After Pierneef 

At the 2017  Turbine Art Fair there was a special exhibition of works by JH Pierneef from the private collection of Anton Taljaard (of Keyes Art Mile fame).  And no,  I didn’t buy a Pierneef – the etchings, watercolours and oils were not for sale. The collection is  one of the biggest private collections in the country and includes some of Pierneef’s original etching plates.

Anton Taljaard’s private collection. Source: Liz at Lancaster Guesthouse

Linked to these previously unseen Pierneefs, was an exciting series of linocuts made by young artists working out of Artist Proof Studio and drawing on Pierneef’s style and iconography.  And I fell in love with ‘A moment of silence’ by Methembe Hlela Molefe see below bottom right.

Linocuts inspired by Pierneef made by artists from Artist Proof Studio. Source Liz at Lancaster Guesthouse

Stay at Liz at Lancaster Guest House

Stay at our well located Guest House and learn more about Artist Proof Studio. View our Rosebank Guest House for Rates and Availability!

Another of my favourite APS graduates: Nelson Makamo

Artists Proof Studio  now located in Houghton and they have an on-line store. You will find loads of affordable art from young exciting emerging artists. How this organization has grown from its starting point-what remarkable vision, energy and dedication Kim and Nhlanhla had. 

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