Photo: Paulo Menezes
The KZNSA is a non-profit, member-based, public benefit organization and every year members of the society are given the opportunity to submit artworks for the presitigous Annual Members' Exhibition. The exhibition brings together a host of local amateur and professional talent working across a wide spectrum of mediums and disciplines, including painting, print, ceramic work, photography and mixed media installations, and is a highlight on the gallery's exhibition calendar.
This year, an interactive approach was taken and members were invited to send through their suggestions for the 2016 theme, with a shortlist selected and put to the vote. With a choice of Celebrate! or Invisible, the votes were counted and Invisible emerged as a strong winner.
Submitted by Pauline Stanford, she explains:
"There are many interpretations one could give to this. I think of people marginalized and ignored by society - older people, people who do work that is often unrecognised and taken for granted, people living with illnesses and disabilities, or children who go unseen and unheard, or people who speak a different language from one's own. In post apartheid South Africa with our wonderful Bill of Rights people are still made invisible through the lenses of race, gender, sexual orientation, religion and class.
The experience of being ignored, dismissed, 'invisibled' is sometimes shocking, sometimes painful, and often a daily reality. It can be a deeply personal experience and also a reflection of power relations between people in general. Invisibled - an act by one person or group upon or towards another person or group. When we walk on the street who do we see and not see? Who sees or doesn't see you or me? When we think of places who do we populate those places with and who does not feature in our mind?
I think the theme could frame a profound exploration of our humanity at many levels, whatever interpretations artists give to it."
A floating trophy and generous prize money to the value of R20,000 is donated to the KZNSA Members’ Exhibition by the Emanuel family, in memory of Durban painter and long standing member of the KZNSA, Joan Emanuel. Joan was involved in the Durban art community for many years; she had a natural talent for painting and drawing and was a founder member of the North Coast Art Group. She took part in many KZNSA members’ exhibitions and staged two solo exhibitions at the NSA Gallery in Overport City.
First: The Brown Family Collective
The Forgotten Treasures
Second: Mondli Mbhele
Third: Mexiy van der Merwe
KZNSA Merit Award: Andile Maphumulo
The invited judges were Sifiso Ka Mkame, Zamani Makhanya and Matthew Ovendale. Comments from the judges about the winning pieces:
The winning work by Carol Brown stood primarily due to its conceptual strength. Within global and local contexts her work held sway in the sense that it effectively critiqued a reality faced by curators and artists alike.
In second place Mondli Mbhele’s work exuded a powerful commentary on the economic and social reality that resonates with many South Africans. Mondli’s ability to capture the emotionally charged figure of a domestic worker in the disposable medium of collage, draws innumerable parallels with invisibility faced by the subject both at work and at home.
In third place Mexiy’s interactive artwork proved powerful in its ability to force its audience to confront their individual reversion to stereotyping. The artwork’s scale and presentation spoke volumes of the artist’s attention to detail and resolved the work effectively.