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UNDER THE SEA (article first published : 2004-05-31)

A number of artists in the Artists in Action Residency Programme (a visual art and music school) at the Bat Centre have been offered an opportunity of a lifetime to draw paintings which have been commissioned by Rani Hotel Resort called Indigo Bay on Bazaruto Island near Beira.

This opportunity is courtesy of Martin Burnett who was originally commissioned to do 60 panels but decided to collaborate with his students as one of the art facilitators at the Bat Centre. He chose one of the 2003 visual art graduates, Kenneth Mazibuko to be his assistant.

Other artists collaborating with Martin and his students are Joy Savage and Charlene Nel, also one of the visual art facilitators at the Bat Centre.

Joy Savage and Charlene Nel bring a ceramic perspective to the panels which will become focal points of each piece. The panels are produced on masonite board. Burnett says that inspiration for the panels come from under the sea colours and creatures produced with mixed media of handmade paper, recycled objects, plaster of paris, eggshells and candle wax tinted with fabric pigment.

This project seeks to give students a hands-on opportunity and hopefully opens the way for future projects. Also taking part in the redecoration and renovation of the hotel is local interior designer, Nikki McCarthy who is involved in the upgrading of the 24 rooms of the hotel and who initiated this art project. Nikki and her husband were the driving force behind the commissioning and overseeing of the Sun Coast paintings produced by a number of local artists.

Martin Burnett himself has been around the visual art culture of Durban for decades sharing his expertise as an art teacher with many tertiary institutions like the University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban Institute of Technology. Between teaching art, he ran a gallery at CenTech College now Ethekwini College. Martin has exhibited at prestigious galleries like the Menzi Mcunu Gallery at the Bat Centre, Durban Art Gallery, the NSA and the now-defunct Grassroots Gallery in Westville. He has been a member of the Durban Art Gallery committee for the past 24 years and his work isfeatured in collections all over the world.

Before they leave for their destination on Bazaruto Island, the panels are on display in the Bat Centre’s Democratic Gallery. More information from the Bat Centre's curator or publicist Faith ka-Manzi on 031 332 0451.




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