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PIETERMARITZBURG PERSONALITIES (article first published : 2007-06-27)

Since the opening of the new improved KZNSA shop in August last year, the KZNSA has had a number of mini-exhibitions in their upstairs gallery on the mezzanine area of the shop. These have been very successful in terms of both sales and exposure for local artists.

This time the KZNSA Shop has looked a bit further afield to present Pietermaritzburg Personalities.

Artist/sculptor Robyn Gordon, painter Nicky Leigh, ceramicist Trayci Tompkins, Usisi Designs (handcrafted items made by rural women), children’s author Donald Woodburn and artist Robyn Date make up a group of creative people who have two things in common – they all hail from the not-so-sleepy hollow of Pietermaritzburg, and all are deeply committed to their respective artistic pursuits.

Robyn Gordon is an artist/sculptor who got into carving to fight the boredom of the long lamplit evenings on the family farm. She produces intricately carved wooden wall pieces and totems, incorporating wire, beads and found objects. Inspired often by folklore, and tribal artefacts, patterns and symbols - her work has a distinctive mythical quality.

Nicky Leigh is a painter of landscapes, still life, dream imagery amongst other subjects. She comes from a family of artists, her mother is from the renowned Everard group of South African women artists, and her father the late artist and lecturer Dick Leigh. She works very much on an unconscious level. Her work has a strong symbolic component and often reflects an emotive response to current issues.

Trayci Tompkins Ceramic Collection – this respected KZN ceramicist is well known here and abroad for her dramatic, large hand-coiled vessels, which she makes from her studio in Hilton, in the Midlands. Increasingly she has split her focus between her trademark pots and her “collectables” range of quirky, affordable, smaller décor pieces and more recently a functional tableware range. Recently added to the collection are the funky, spunky “Zulu-Lulu” gals, who will feature at this exhibition.

Usisi Designs is a collection of exquisitely handcrafted items, all produced by the expert hands of rural women of South Africa. Under the expert leadership of Julia Buss, the group produces beautiful handmade copper wire and beaded items in rich, vibrant colours reflecting the African earth and sky. Items on exhibition include handbags and body wraps, tableware, jewellery, lights etc.

Children’s author Donald Woodburn, who is about to bring out his fourth book, has recently been referred to by a reviewer as the local Dr Seuss! His stories have a true South African flavour, complemented by the work of South African illustrators who work closely with Donald to reflect his vision. His most recent book, hot off the press, is illustrated by young Pietermaritzburg artist Robin Date, and original illustrations by Robin will be shown together with the books, giving an insight into the labour of love the publication of a book entails.

On July 14 and 15 at 11h00, Donald will do readings of his books and thereafter is happy to do further readings during the period of the exhibition if he has a group of at least 10 children. Further information from Gloria or Gail on 031 277 1700 or email shop@kznsagallery.co.za

The exhibition will coincide with the opening of the Nivea START Competition in the KZNSA Gallery on July 10 at 18h00. It then runs until August 3.




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