New mu­seum to ce­le­bra­te of­fi­ci­al o­pe­ning

Graaff-Reinet Advertiser - - Voorblad -

NIEU-BET­HES­DA — Con­tem­po­ra­ry art cre­a­ted by in­di­ge­nous ar­tis­ts at the Bet­hes­da Arts Cen­t­re, in the re­mo­te Ka­roo vil­la­ge of Nieu-bet­hes­da is at­tracting in­ter­na­ti­o­nal at­ten­ti­on. For the last twen­ty y­e­ars Bush­man des­cen­dants ha­ve been ma­king gi­ant ta­pe­s­tries and li­no-prints ex­plo­ring the cre­a­ti­on myt­ho­lo­gy of the |Xam - sto­ries re­cor­ded in the 19th Cen­tu­ry, just be­fo­re the |Xam lan­gua­ge be­ca­me ex­tinct. Now, the Bet­hes­da Arts Cen­t­re is to be­co­me the Bush­man He­ri­ta­ge Mu­seum, to ma­ke bet­ter kno­wn t­his an­cient wis­dom. The­se myt­hs are pro­found­ly re­le­vant to con­tem­po­ra­ry hu­ma­ni­ty be­cau­se they ad­dress, through the u­ni­ver­sal lan­gua­ge of ar­che­ty­pal i­ma­ges, the cre­a­ti­on of the u­ni­ver­se. T­his is not a­chie­ved by the ma­le do­mi­na­ting prin­ci­ple, as in most cre­a­ti­on myt­ho­lo­gy, but by the cre­a­ti­ve fe­mi­ni­ne. The Sun is cre­a­ted by the old wo­men who work through the child­ren - their mis­chief, coura­ge, and laug­h­ter - to bring warmth and lig­ht to the wor­ld. The Mil­ky Way is cre­a­ted by a young wo­man re­a­ching her first men­ses. The green­ing of the e­arth through rain is broug­ht a­bout by the young mot­her who coura­ge­ous­ly climbs on­to the back of the Rain­bull. Hu­ma­ni­ty's doom­ed pro­ject of trying to do­mi­na­te na­tu­re is ex­plo­red in myt­hs that are con­tem­po­ra­ry and acces­si­ble e­nough to ha­ve been writ­ten to­day. The gi­ant ta­pe­s­tries ma­de at the Cen­t­re ha­ve been ho­nou­red at an in­ter­na­ti­o­nal le­vel, in­clu­ding work being exhi­bi­ted at the I­zi­ko Na­ti­o­nal Gal­le­ry, the Gra­ham­stown Fe­s­ti­val, va­ri­ous Eu­ro­pe­an ci­ties, and in Aus­tra­lia. Ta­pe­s­tries ha­ve been pur­cha­sed by cor­po­ra­ti­ons, pu­blic gal­le­ries, the Con­sti­tu­ti­o­nal Court in Jo­han­nes­burg, and by the B­ri­tish Mu­seum. The Bet­hes­da Arts Cen­t­re was foun­ded in 1999 by Je­ni Cou­zyn, a poet and psy­cho­a­na­lyst dri­ven by a lo­ve for the pe­op­le of the com­mu­ni­ty, and a de­si­re to help them re­con­nect with their cul­tu­ral roots. The ar­tis­ts are lo­cal pe­op­le of mixed des­cent from the co­lou­red com­mu­ni­ty, who ha­ve gra­du­al­ly co­me to re­cog­ni­se and own their Bush­man des­cent. No-one is left a­li­ve who speaks the |Xam lan­gua­ge, but it is well-kno­wn is that the |Xam co­ve­r­ed a lar­ge a­rea in the Nort­hern and Eas­tern Ca­pe, that in­clu­ded the S­neeu­berg moun­tains, and Nieu-bet­hes­da. The quir­ky Cen­t­re, with its me­die­val to­wer, go­thic doors, round ri­ver-sto­ne cour­ty­ard, and lar­ge mo­dern gal­le­ries full of stun­ning art­work is an as­to­nis­hing find in the dus­ty off-be­at dorp in the dept­hs of the Ka­roo. But the qua­li­ty of the work at­trac­ted the cu­ra­tor of the B­ri­tish Mu­seum to vi­sit from Lon­don to see and pur­cha­se a ta­pe­stry for their re­cent ma­jor exhi­bi­ti­on: South A­fri­ca, The Art of a Na­ti­on. The Bush­man He­ri­ta­ge Mu­seum will be of­fi­ci­al­ly o­pe­ned on 28 No­vem­ber from 13:00 to 21:00. The Mu­seum, lo­ca­ted in Mul­ler S­treet, Nieu-bet­hes­da, will be o­pe­ned by its foun­der and di­rec­tor, Je­ni Cou­zyn with the Cen­t­re ar­tis­ts, the chair­man of the bo­ard, Dr Va­le­rie Si­na­son, Toe­tie Douw, tra­di­ti­o­nal le­a­der of the |Xam, and guest of ho­nour, Pro­fes­sor Pip­pa S­kot­nes. RSVPS are es­sen­ti­al, con­tact Ge­rald Mei at Ge­rald@bet­hes­da­to­, 049 841 1731 or 083 424 4525 or San­dra S­weers at 082 795 8424.

See a vi­deo at www.graaff­rei­ne­t­ad­ver­ti­ The Bush­man He­ri­ta­ge Mu­seum in Nieu-bet­hes­da will be of­fi­ci­al­ly o­pe­ned on Wed­nes­day, 28 No­vem­ber at 13:00.

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