I can’t decide what to blog about, so I’m not going to (decide, that is). Here’s to saying “yes” for everything!

1.Fried Contemporary Autumn Art Fair

Here was the official invitation to the opening which is this coming Saturday at Fried Contemporary:

Please join us for the opening of the Fried Autumn Art Fair on Saturday 16 March 2013 at 6.30 pm.
The exhibition will be opened by Werner Burger, art collector. There are four merit prizes that have been awarded that will be announced at the opening.
The gallery received nearly 300 entries for the Fair from afar as Zimbabwe and the Cape. Since it is impossible to display all 300 works in the gallery, we necessarily had to select work, which was done by an adjudication panel consisting of Guy du Toit (professional artist), Leana van der Merwe (lecturer, University of Pretoria) and Elfriede Dreyer (curator, Fried Contemporary). Still almost 200 works will be on display in a variety of media and reasonably priced. See you here!

And yes, I’m happy to say that one of my drawings was selected! Yay me!

Here’s a picture of it. I’m curious to see how it’ll show up amongst the others.


One of the artists that is also selected is a woman named Majak Bredell, which brings me to the second topic.

2.Roll Call

This past Saturday we braved the N1 and the M1 and Empire Road to go to the University of Johannesburg Art Gallery. The Gallery had opened only after we studied there so it’s not one I’m very familiar with although in principle I knew where it is. It is a humungous gallery, which is good because the work on display there at the moment is of truly epic proportions. It is Ms. Bredell’s 20m long 1.5m high drawing of 52 witches – in her own words“An artwork created to vindicate the lives & bodies that were broken and burned during the many centuries of European Witch Persecutions.”

On Saturday she was there to talk about the work and about the exhibition. When she first stood behind the podium to start talking, I thought “she is a witch too.” I’ve known a few witches in my time, and here I don’t refer to Oz’s witches, or to women who don robes and do archaic rituals by moonlight. The witches I’ve known have been women who are able to live their lives by their own intuition. Through acts of art they are able to bring healing. They are not always well-liked because they are unafraid to speak their minds, and they don’t try and hide their deep emotional life with sanitary niceness. I am lucky to know women like this, and I strive to one day, too, be a witch.

Majak ended her speech with these words (I’m paraphrasing here though):

“If a witch is a woman who sees the truth and then speaks it, then I too am a witch.”

I’ll leave you to look at the scrollhere but it would behoove you to go see it in real life. The figures are almost life-size and accompanied by a body of work called “Dissident Voices” which in their own right is also spectacular to see. The Dissident Voices honour the women who have made modern-day society, where a woman can choose what to do with her life, possible.

I do want to quickly discuss this one part of the scroll though. Ms. Bredell spoke about it specifically. This woman was burnt at the stake, her only crime being “mother”. Two days later, her two, young, unnamed sons were burnt too. As a mother, we can only assume that she had done all she could to protect her children, but in the end she was unable to – hence she is drawn as transparent, even though the pose she adopts here is of protection.

Roll Call (detail)

Most of the figures were drawn from live models. Some of the figures were drawn from memory. She draws with a pencil called “Ebony” (apparently unavailable in SA) into wet turpentine – a method that came about after an accident in the studio (if it is anything like my studio, the accident involved a cat at the very least). She says this gives a charcoal-like quality but the turpentine fixes it to the paper – and gives me fodder for experimentation! Because I’m sure the turpentine won’t work only for her special American pencil.

3.More Competition

I had entered two drawings for this year’s Absa L’Ateliercompetition but I haven’t heard anything yet. Nerve-wracking! The last time I entered a competition it didn’t go very well, but the response I’ve had for this work so far has been overwhelmingly positive. I don’t have a good image for the final result but here are two details. Life sized and impossible to work with, but I’m happy with it and glad I made it. So, hold thumbs for me! I should hear the result through the course of this week (the opening for the exhibition is Friday so I think if it isn’t chosen they’ll ask me to pick it up before then).

Synthesis: Male/Female Synthesis: Female/Male

UPDATE: Aw. I just heard. They didn’t make it :-(

Written by: