Fabulous sculptures which emerged from a two-week artistic exchange between Makana, Grahamstown artists and the French Les Grandes Personnes-led international cohort of artists have moved to a new exhibition space at the Commemoration Hall at St Andrew’s College.
The 14 mini-figurines emerged out of extensive discussions between the international artists and township artists at the Recreation Hall in Grahamstown’s Albany Road.
A wonderful sculpture studio was created out of a drab hall, with notes on a long white canvas documenting the personal histories and memories of the artists’ ancestors and each sculpture reflected these stories. Tubs of mache and wire, and paint and cloth filled the exciting space.
Among the diverse characters is a randy old sailor man, an old relative of Christophe Evette’s, who gets a distinct bulge in his striped navy-striped pants when he nods his head — the result of some wonderful sculptural articulation work.
Another character is an old Xhosa man who foolishly sold all his cattle to the colonists and was forced to work on the mines only to return broken and poor. There is also the story of a black South African soldier who gave his all to fight for the allies in WW1 and returned home only with a bicycle and the clothes on his back.
Ancestors’ photographer Hannah Paton says the four shows, two on the Rhodes University Ddrosty Lawns and two up in the townships at Nombulelo Hall, evinced awe and enjoyment from people, many of whom did not have a distinct link with the national arts festival, but knew all about ancestors and their tales!
While the six international artists from France, Chile, Italy and Burkina-Faso have left the festival, the local artists are at the exhibition talking to people about the creative process, the pefrormances and the context to the artworks.
The exhibition represented the completion of a circle of art which also involved the creators taking their work back home to be admired and discussed in the community.
“It’s been incredible — an unexpected success!” Hannah said.
“People who have never performed or sculpted before have made amazing art. (The project) has really brought out the best in each artist.”
The exhibition runs from 9am to 18pm each day until Sunday.