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ART EXHIBITION (article first published : 2001-08-6)

Acclaimed Durban photographer Val Adamson, Delhi-based installation artist Sonia Khurana and a group of women crafters from the Lubombo Initiative will present an exciting array of visual arts for The South African Women’s Arts Festival 2001. This unique collection will be open from August 9 at 10h00 and runs until the end of the festival on August 12.

In November 1999, a programme funded by the national department of social development was launched for crafters of the Lubombo Spatial Development Initiative region surrounding the Greater St Lucia Wetland Park. This progressive programme assessed the need to increase crafter’s income by looking at issues such as product development, branding and marketing.

A full range of newly-developed crafts which cannot be found on the streets, emerged from this programme. Bronwyn James, manager of craft and cultural programmes for the Lubombo Initiative, said "What we’re really trying to do is encourage people to put a modern spin on elements of traditional design, using basic materials".

The Lubombo crafters have been invited to the festival in recognition of their great skill as crafters who are breaking new ground by seeking new designs. Their participation also recognises the part they are playing as role models as women entrepreneurs in the arts. "Keeping in mind the theme of the festival’s conference Breaking new ground: Women as Entrepreneurs in the Arts, it seemed very appropriate to invite them to exhibit their work at the festival," said Playhouse Education and Development manager Tania Barbour.

Known for her startling and vibrant vision, Val Adamson, brings her highly individual artistic talent to the festival in a new work dedicated to women. Using as her theme, women through the ages from day one onwards, she seeks to represent the inherent beauty in women’s shapes throughout life’s changes. Instead of the usual photographic print, she will explore new ways of presenting photographs and experimenting with new mediums.

Kenyan-born and Edinburgh-trained Val Adamson moved to South Africa at the age of 21 where she has gained a reputation as one of the most highly-respected theatre and dance photographers in the country. In 1989, she was nominated for the "Rising Star of the Year" award for her contributions to the world of dance. She has a knack for capturing the essence of movement and has recorded the best and most diverse selection of theatre art in this province. Her solo exhibitions have included Caught in the Act (1988) and Textured Lives (1993-1996).

Sonia Khurana presents two hard-hitting video installations at the festival. Bird is the first of a series of very short films about the enclosing nature of self-image and the “inarticulateness” of the body. Bird is shot with a hand-held camera in rapid and fluid movement, and partly in long shots, as it sketches bodily movements in space.

Sonia says, "Bird is about a body and it is about an encounter with failed flight. It is an investigation of two kinds of limitations: the body confronting its own flesh, and the forces of gravity. It is also a discrete questioning of the accounts of the body which overlook sexual difference." The second work entitled The Thing, negotiates the thin line between self-love and self-disgust.

Sonia has worked with a variety of media including film, video, photography, performance and installation. After her initial training in art in Delhi, Sonia received the INLAKS grant to study art at the Royal College of Art in London, where she studied for a Masters in Fine Arts. Sonia currently lives and works in Delhi, but her interest in South Africa was sparked when attending a symposium in Johannesburg earlier this year.

This diverse and exciting collection of visual arts will be housed in the Alhambra Room and Drama Foyer at the Playhouse and is open for viewing from 10h00 until late daily from August 9 to 12. Admission is free.

For more information call the Festival Hotline on (031) 369 9444. Pick up a brochure at TicketWeb outlets or at the Playhouse Complex for your complete guide to times, events, and ticket prices, as well as information on where to park, where to stay and where to eat.

Presented by The Playhouse Company and proudly sponsored by Transnet, The South African Women’s Arts Festival 2001 runs from August 8 to 12 at the Playhouse Complex.




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