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Friday, December 16, 2011


Report by Estelle Sinkins. (Courtesy of The Witness)

When Scottsville artists, Hussein Salim and Chris Morewood, first mooted the idea of working on a collaborative project, little did they think it would lead them to staging a joint exhibition – The Anglo-African Connection – at the Tatham Art Gallery in Pietermaritzburg.

The two men, who live in Pepworth Road, have created a series of unique decorated wooden lathe-turned objects, which can be viewed alongside Salim’s striking paintings and mixed media work and Morewood’s wood-turned pieces in the Schreiner Gallery.

Morewood, who is originally from England, said they began working together after he asked Salim, who is originally from the Sudan, if he had ever done any 3D work.

“We knew each other as neighbours and I admired what Hussein was doing,” Morewood explained. “He is intensely productive and passionate about his work. I asked Hussein if he had ever done any work in the round, in 3D. He said that while he had always wanted to work on a round canvas, he hadn’t yet done so. I suggested he decorate one of my bowls, African Sun, and he did.

“Terri Broll then asked us to exhibit our work at her exhibition in Hilton. Hussein’s canvases sold well, but none of our bowls did. Terri said it was probably because people weren’t used to the concept – but a few weeks later they were all sold to people who came to my house to buy them.”

Having seen a small selection of this collaborative work, I’m not surprised.

Salim has used acrylics and fine liner pens to decorate the pieces made by Morewood and admits he’s fascinated by the way the colours change and the designs are influenced by the wooden surface. “It has been a challenge, a beautiful challenge. I am used to working in two dimension and thought why not test myself? Sketching and preparation has opened up new ideas for me and I’ve been fascinated by the way the wood absorbs the colour and changes it. I am sure that when I’m finished this project that I’ll return to my canvases with new ideas.”

Morewood said that once Hussein had applied the detail to the wood, it was covered in three layers of matt lacquer. “We want these pieces to be tough because they are going to be handled,” he added.

It’s not the first time that either artist has featured in exhibitions at the Tatham. Two of Morewood’s works were selected for the 2010 Jabulisa exhibition, and Salim took part in the Contemporary Reflections: New Art To Old exhibition in 2009 and has regularly donated works to the annual Fotag Fabulous Picture Show.

Speaking about his work for Jabulisa, Morewood said: “I have been experimenting with traditional wood turning techniques to create bowls which no longer had a real function but were instead wholly decorative. I made nine bowls, using a jigsaw pattern. They were wafer thin and very shallow, and not much good as bowls, but they looked beautiful.”

As the Tatham is keen for the two men to do Artists in Residence programmes during the exhibition’s run, both Morewood and Salim intend working in the gallery – Salim will be painting and Morewood turning wooden objects with a small lathe.

The Anglo-African Connection runs at the Tatham Art Gallery until January 29. The gallery is situated in Chief Albert Luthuli (Commercial) Road, Pietermaritzburg, and is open from 10h00 to 17h00 from Tuesdays to Sundays. Inquiries 033 392 2801. – Estelle Sinkins