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Wednesday, May 29, 2013


("Salutations" by Deborah Bell)

The newly-refurbished Durban Art Gallery, one of the country’s leading major national art museums, is hosting two companion exhibitions, People, Prints & Process: 25 Years at Caversham and Hats Off: 25 years Linocuts from Caversham – both of open formally on Thursday 30 May and run at DAG until 21 July.

The Gallery has been operating with limited capacity for the past year while specialists created a special dome over the fragile and badly damaged gallery roof, which boasts vintage stain glass detail. The threat of water damage to the priceless works of art on exhibit below meant that much of the gallery was non-functioning while the roof was re-enforced and sealed.

“We are delighted to report that the roof is now complete and all the leaks have been efficiently repaired,” says Mduduzi Xakaza, Director of the Durban Art Gallery.

A very jubilant opening season is being hosted at the Gallery to commemorate 25 years of one of KZN’s most enduring and significant art institutions, the remarkable Caversham Press, Educational Trust and Centre for Artists and Writers, which turned 25 in 2010.

The Caversham Press was founded in 1985 in the Caversham Valley, Balgowan, to afford South African artists access to a professional collaborative printmaking studio for the production of limited-edition prints. The press was the first comprehensive facility of its kind in Southern Africa and has become highly regarded not only for the range of processes it offers and the expertise of founder and master-printer, Malcolm Christian, but also for its reputation as an accessible and collaborative art centre.

Since its inception it has worked with many notable South African professional artists including William Kentridge, David Koloane, Zwelethu Mthethwa, Deborah Bell, Mmakgabo Sebidi, the late Robert Hodgins, Bonnie Ntshalintshali and the late Gabisile Nkosi.

In keeping with the founding ethos, to offer accessibility and skills transference and to nurture emergent artists from disadvantaged backgrounds and other countries, residencies designed to generate creative dialogue between South Africans and people of other nations were introduced in 1999. During this period, it has contributed to the skills development of more than 250 artists including Ezekiel Mabote, Vulindlela Nyoni, Sarah Tabane and Witty Nyide.

“Caversham Press, home to a dynamic portfolio of programmes, recently curated and presented a series of exhibitions to celebrate 25 years of creative practice. A marriage of the visual, social and discursive, the prints collectively trace Caversham’s biography through a rich and diverse archive of a tumultuous past. The history of printmaking shows its use, since invention, as a political tool to stimulate thought and garner action, two requirements for effecting change,” notes arts commentator and former curator of the KZNSA Gallery, Brenton Maart.

The Hats Off exhibition was first seen at Tokara Wine Estate before being shown concurrently with People, Prints and Process at the Standard Bank Gallery in Johannesburg in 2010 and in Boston University USA and at the Tatham Art Gallery, Pietermaritzburg and The William Humphreys Art Gallery, Kimberley in 2011. The 25 years of Caversham exhibition has also been hosted at the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown and at the Oliewenshuis Art Gallery in Bloemfontein last year.

People, Prints & Process: 25 Years at Caversham comprises 74 works and Hats Off comprises 33 works. The exhibitions run until July 21.

The Durban Art Gallery (DAG) is open seven days a week: Monday until Saturday from 8.30am until 4pm, and Sunday from 11h00 to 16h00. Entry is free and all are welcome! For more information, contact the Gallery on 031 311 2264 / 9 or (weekdays).

DAG is on the second floor of the magnificent Durban City Hall building, enter opposite the Playhouse. Regrettably the lift, which is being repaired, is currently out of commission, so the only access is via stairs, which may be problematic for wheelchair patrons or the elderly.