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Monday, August 29, 2011


(Moments of Awakening by Dina Cormick)

In celebration of Women’s Month and National Women’s Day, the African Art Centre offers a solo exhibition of recent icon triptychs by celebrated artist from KwaZulu Natal, Dina Cormick. The exhibition is titled Honouring the Stories within Every Woman – Images for the Journey.

Dina Cormick says that her main focus has always been to honour the stories within every woman and that the images she creates are always celebration of the journey. In the artist’s own words: “Someone once said to me “we create our own journeys with every step” And I have come to realize - it is not the journey’s end that matters, it is the process... how and why we continue. It is not about what we leave behind; it is rather what we are doing right now – that popular phrase “living in the now”, the present. This is what inspires and agitates my image-making”.

In her current works, she says that she aims to create images that capture those moments of intense awareness; deeply personal and intimate awakenings to the magic of the moment, those almost indescribable moments of overwhelming consciousness of a sacred encounter.

The images on exhibition are presented in an ancient women’s art-format, the portable altar shrine. These are miniature triptychs were created by women for women, for private use in their homes, and notably, women could use their triptychs without interference or control by the patriarchal authorities. It is this element of unsanctioned feminist spiritual practice, that Dina expands into yet further dimensions, extending, broadening our understanding of where one finds the sacred.

“I have moved my Ikon imagery (iconography) into a dimension of essence where everything has the potential to be divine”, she explains. “Miniature artworks engage one’s attention in a very personal, intimate interaction. The viewer must come close to examine the detail, to connect visually and emotionally to the imagery. My triptych ikons are unashamedly didactic; the viewer is invited to open the doors and to interact personally with each story depicted. The triptychs are private altars to accompany you on your journeying and are sacred shrines to place in your home.”

Dina states that the uses the concept of ikon deliberately to evoke a spiritual dimension to the visual encounter. Essentially this is a re-birthing of the Ikon. She calls her images the Wise Women Ikons, explorations of re-envisioning and finding the sacred in every woman and most importantly, images that remind us how refreshingly joyous our life already is!

Traditionally the Byzantine Ikon depicts a sacred image in a formalized style that is used ceremoniously and venerated. Since Ikons have always played an essential part in public and private worship, it is often believed that they act as conduit of blessings to the one worshiper. The triptych is a set of three thematically connected images hinged vertically so as to allow the side panels to fold over the central panel.

Born in Nkana, Zambia, and schooled in Harare, Zimbabwe, she studied art at Rhodes University, Grahamstown and at what is now the Durban University of Technology. Since 1978 she has worked as freelance artist from her studio in Durban. Her commissioned artworks include wood sculptures, mosaic and ceramic panels, book illustrations and posters, and can be found widely distributed through Southern Africa in ecumenical church institutions, as well as in numerous grassroots and socio-political organisations. Her particular concern and interest lies in the didactic importance of art. In 1992 she graduated cum laude as a "Mistress" of Feminist Theological Ethics, after critically discussing the manner in which women have been imaged by the Christian Church.

Honouring the Stories within Every Woman is supplemented by Ilala Palm baskets by the Masuku Sisters from Hlabisa and runs until September 3 at the African Art Centre at 94 Florida Road, Morningside. More information from the Director, Sharon Crampton, on 031 312 3805 or the Development Officer, Nozipho Zulu, on 031 312 3804 or email or visit