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Sunday, March 18, 2012


Led by Professor Kate Wells, an Associate Professor and Senior Graphic Design Lecturer at the Durban University of Technology, an exciting new book on the Siyazama Project was launched on March 13.

Titled SIYAZAMA Art, AIDS, Education in South Africa, the book launch coincided with a Faculty Lecture by Professor Jackie Guille who is the Design supervisor and Professor at the University of Northumbria/Newcastle, London. Professors Guille and Wells have worked together many times in Uganda and in South Africa, in rural craft design; community and development.

Housed at the Department of Graphic Design at DUT, the Siyazama Project and its producers communicate and spread awareness on HIV/AIDS through creative workshops, local and international exhibitions, museum collections, publications and ongoing research activities. The project has exhibited at numerous South African art galleries as well as abroad.

The Siyazama beadwork collection was on view at the Michigan State University museum where Professor Wells conducted several on-site presentations to Faculty, medical students and museum staff during 2007 and 2008. This exhibition generated a wide range of interest and has resulted in subsequent requests to ‘travel’ the exhibits to other museums in the USA.

“It was at this point that a book was deemed urgent in order to cascade the correct information about the project. The book is intended to travel with the beadwork collection,” said Professor Wells. Together with Professors Marsha MacDowell, C Kurt Dewhurst and Marit Dewhurst, of Michigan State University Museum, the book started to take shape over many emails and Skype sessions.

She added that the book also explores the project visually and photographically. The voices in the book are people who have contributed to the project in a substantial manner over the years of the project.

“The new book contains information about other arts in health activities in South Africa and this includes The African Art Centre, Hillcrest AIDS Centre, Umcebo Trust, Artists for Humanity, and others,” she explains. “With all the new projects going on in Siyazama, it seems likely that a further book edition is imminent.”

Currently, the Siyazama Project is actively engaged in a new design developmental project with Editions in Craft from Sweden. For several years now, Renee Padt and Ikko Yokoyama of Editions in Craft have been to DUT to work with the rural craftswomen. Their recent design collaborative with the three-girl design team called FRONT was responsible for producing the highly acclaimed Story Vases. “These have caused a stir worldwide and are proving hugely popular in upmarket d├ęcor settings. Funding has been secured to continue this important work with Siyazama,” said Professor Wells.

More information from Professor Kate Wells on