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SASOL WAX ART FOR WAFER (article first published : 2006-09-21)

Jeremy Wafer is the recipient of the inaugural R130,000 Sasol Wax Art Award for his mixed media installation entitled Geography. His work was chosen above the rest of the finalists: Kim Berman, Andrew Tshabangu, Diane Victor and Kagiso Pat Mautloa.

Formerly from Durban where he was a leading figure in the visual arts community, Jeremy Wafer is currently head of the Wits School of the Arts, Department of Fine Arts. He has a wealth of experience and talent in both art education and practice. His winning work is an exploration of his childhood memories of KwaZulu-Natal where he grew up and aspects of his current Melville home environment.

"I am interested both in the dualistic nature of experience, how memory is both presence and absence - expressing the view that the meaning or significance attached to the works lies between rather than in them," he says.

His work deals primarily with two concepts, location and memory, and how these apparently unrelated concepts, in fact, are interwoven. The process from original conceptual projection to realisation has been one of radical refinement. Jeremy set out with the idea of making a set of sculptures, drawings and site-specific installations sharing the common theme of "location".

Objects, varying from small to large, were placed and documented in specific sites in KwaZulu-Natal, and intended for display in the exhibition venue. The photographs and monitors showing displaced locations would therefore bring together the exhibited images, the process and the location of the site specific pieces.

But when Jeremy Wafer looked at the exhibition space again and thought about how things would relate physically to one another in that space, he felt that there were too many elements and that some might be swamped by the vastness of the space. "It's my normal process of refining ideas. You start with a big menu and cut it down until there are only the things that seem necessary," he says. "It was a matter of emphasising some things, making them bigger and clearer, and editing others out."

Of the five initial elements, only two continued to compel Wafer. The first is a full scale drawing using wax polish of the shape and surface of the veranda floor of his childhood home: "A particular memory of a particular space with a very evocative quality to me," he says.

The other element that remained interesting takes the form of a continuous looped screening of a close-up video, entitled HIVE, of the entrance of a beehive in the trunk of a tree on the street in Melville, Johannesburg, where he lives.

Wax is used in Jeremy Wafer's work either directly as a main structural element or indirectly through references to wax by way of the stoep polish and beeswax.

The Sasol Wax Art Award Exhibition can be seen at the Aardklop National Arts Festival, Snowflake Building in Potchefstroom from September 26 to 30. Daily walkabouts will be held.

The Sasol Wax Art Award was launched in December 2005 to reward professional artists for their achievements and contribution to the visual arts. Wax, one of Sasol's international products, is featured as part of the process, concept or medium in the finalists' artworks. Further information is available from Carola Ross and Associates at 011 725 2502 or hotmango@mweb.co.za.




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