Safe space for artists to grow
Thupelo, an artist-led workshop, exploring, expanding and exchanging ideas
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.