Safe space for artists to grow

Thu­pelo, an artist-led work­shop, ex­plor­ing, ex­pand­ing and ex­chang­ing ideas

The Independent on Saturday - - LIFESTYLE -


OVER the next seven days, 22 fine artists from di­verse cul­tural, na­tional and so­cial back­grounds will cre­ate pieces in a safe cre­ative space through the Thu­pelo work­shop at Ikomkhulu Art Space, a new gallery at Am­bas­sador House Gallery, in Monty Naicker (Pine) Street in the CBD.

The idea of Thu­pelo be­gan in 1985 and was brought about by artists Bill Ainslie and David Koloane as black artists had few ed­u­ca­tional or pro­fes­sional fa­cil­i­ties and were ex­cluded from at­tend­ing some art in­sti­tu­tions.

Re­gional and in­ter­na­tional co-or­di­na­tor of Thu­pelo Work­shops in KwaZulu-Natal, Witty Nyide said the work­shops are about ex­chang­ing ideas and ex­pe­ri­ences be­tween artists: “It’s artist led. There’s no struc­ture to it, no hi­er­ar­chy. It’s meant to en­able artists to look at how they work in an en­vi­ron­ment with­out wor­ry­ing about things such as stu­dio space which is one of the chal­lenges in Dur­ban. It’s about ex­plor­ing and ex­pand­ing and try­ing to chal­lenge the nor­mal ap­proach.

“It’s a space to ex­plore dif­fer­ent ways of mak­ing art. This is lo­cal but we will co-or­di­nate an in­ter­na­tional one in KZN in Not­ting­ham Road in April next year. It will give Dur­ban artists an op­por­tu­nity to par­tic­i­pate at an in­ter­na­tional level.”

The ini­tial num­ber of par­tic­i­pants was 16 but due to the over­whelm­ing stan­dard of ap­pli­ca­tions re­ceived, the work­shop extended it to 22 artists.

“This is very much an in­dus­try dom­i­nated by men so we were ex­cited to re­ceive ap­pli­ca­tions from fe­male artists who are re­ally do­ing won­der­ful work that is promis­ing,” said Nyide.

She said the work­shop of­fers artists the op­por­tu­nity to cre­ate art with­out dis­trac­tion: “Dur­ban artists are work­ing in iso­la­tion or work­ing ac­cord­ing to a cri­te­ria that fine art in­sti­tu­tions have to meet in what makes a good paint­ing and so on. There’s lots of pressure in terms of creat­ing work for an au­di­ence and what peo­ple will buy. And in this work­shop, the process is more im­por­tant than what comes out. You will ex­pe­ri­ence what they are do­ing.

“It’s not a cu­rated show. It al­lows the artist to go in­ward and hope­fully find ways to ex­ter­nalise that in how they ex­pe­ri­ence the work­shop. It’s about al­low­ing the en­er­gies around you to flow and learn­ing from one an­other which is what the phrase Thu­pelo tries to cap­ture.”

Hav­ing at­tended the work­shops since she was a stu­dent, Nyide said it cre­ates a space for ques­tion­ing.

Emerg­ing and ex­pe­ri­enced artists are in­volved. “There are older and young artists in terms of their de­vel­op­ment stage. It’s work that ad­dresses im­por­tant is­sues and work that tries to find dif­fer­ent ways of mak­ing so­cial com­men­tary, work which we felt were speak­ing to is­sues in an in­no­va­tive way.”

Thu­pelo forms part of in­ter­na­tional Tri­an­gle Artists net­work of work­shops, founded by Anthony Caro and Robert Loder. The work­shops have been hosted in coun­tries in­clud­ing the US, In­dia, Botswana, Ja­maica, Kenya, Zim­babwe and Wales.

The pub­lic is in­vited to view the works of th­ese artists on November 17 at Ikomkhulu Art Space at Am­bas­sador House Gallery.

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