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Friday, November 14, 2014


(Clive Sithole)

The three finalists for the inaugural eThekwini Art Prize Competition (winner Clive Sithole and runners-up Umcebo Design and Kerry Wallace) are currently showcasing their work at the first eThekwini Art Prize Group Exhibition at the Durban Art Gallery.

Durban ceramicist, Clive Sithole, was the inaugural winner of the first eThekwini Art Prize Competition last September. His prize was a commission to create a five metre outdoor public art piece which is situated at the intersection of Dr Pixley ka Isaka Seme St and O R Tambo Parade in the beach-end of the CBD. The artwork is finished and arrangements are being made to unveil it shortly.

Sithole was pitted up against two other worthy finalists - Umcebo Design (Robin Opperman and Ujala Jackie Sewpersad) and Kerry Wallace.

“In 2011, the Durban Art Gallery, under the Department of Libraries and Heritage, embarked on a project of enhancing the exposure of the local citizens to public art that should serve to neutralize the dominant character of the City as a concrete jungle,” explained Mduduzi Xakaza, Director: Durban Art Gallery.

“Bringing visual art to every eThekwini citizen, irrespective of where they may be in the city, would be one of the best ways of affording everybody a democratic right to the appreciation of local artistic talent,” he continued. “Striving to become an economically advanced society should, in our opinion, be parallel to cultural advancement which can enhance the humane aspect of the people of eThekwini.

“Public visual art pieces would embody an abstract aspect of human intellect which would, in turn, enhance both heritage and tourism sectors of the city. It is also envisaged that such public art pieces may steadily grow in their dimensions as these competitions attract more funding and critical acclaim in the future.” he said.

Clive Sithole works at a studio in the BAT Centre in the Small Craft Harbour. He took his lead from the traditional head-rest design. Using cement, he has re-interpreted the concept of a head-rest to denote dreaming and rest – with giant moon-shaped cattle horns and solar panelled-lights.

Umcebo Design is headed by Robin Opperman and Ujala Sewpersad. Their entry was a giant wind chime. They are based in Glenwood opposite the KZNSA Gallery. Umcebo is best known for working with recycled materials and creating enormous chandeliers. The concept of Umcebo Design was born out of a long history of working with marginalised people of varying abilities around the idea that art and craft can be elevated to a new level of creativity and, at the same time, generate valuable income for participants. Umcebo Design continues to produce unique art and craft pieces and works closely with other craft-centred organisations in the Durban area.

Kerry Wallace’s submission was inspired by a popular township board-game, the counters for which are often found objects like bottle-tops and pebbles. Predominantly a landscape artist, she finds herself seeking out cross-sections of aerial landscapes - like a view from an aeroplane window onto the spread of landscape below. Like counters in a game, the visual objects create conversations and tensions within the landscapes. The landscapes represent a state of being whether it be physical, psychological or economic. There is a meditation on isolation and mortality.

“We are very proud of all participants. The judges had a difficult process to decide on the three finalists as the entries were all exciting,” explains Xakaza.

A series of workshops, walkabouts and events will accompany the exhibition.

The first eThekwini Art Prize Group exhibition will run at the Durban Art Gallery until January 25, 2015. The Durban Art Gallery (DAG) is open seven days a week: Monday until Saturday from 08h30 until 16h00, and Sunday from 11h00 until 16h00. Entry is free and all are welcome! For more information, contact the Gallery on 031 311 2264 / 9 or email: (weekdays)

DAG is on the second floor of the Durban City Hall building, enter opposite the Playhouse.