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SPIER CONTEMPORARY (article first published : 2007-10-17)

An outpouring of art from all corners of South Africa to the Spier Contemporary art exhibition and awards indicates that “art is being seen as a valuable means of communication”, says Curator, Clive van den Berg. “We have received a very wide range in every way – from amateur to professional, urban and rural, old and young, trained and untrained”. This overwhelming response confirms the value of the Spier Contemporary for the growth of the art industry in South Africa.

Staff at 13 institutions around the country that opened their doors to receive submissions recently were thrilled by the response. Some 2,147 works were submitted, 100 of which will be selected for the inaugural Spier Contemporary exhibition. In addition to the prestige of being part of South Africa’s largest national exhibition in 2007/2008, five to seven award “winners” will share R700,000 to advance their artistic careers.

Tanner Methvin, Director of the Africa Centre, the Section 21 Company that conceptualised the Spier Contemporary said, “What is truly fascinating about this process is discovering the themes that run through the collective South Africa experience. The art-work we have received from around the country tell the story of who we are as a nation at this moment in time.”

At Polokwane, one of the smaller collection points, Amos Letsoalo, Curator of the Polokwane Art museum commented: “We have had 67 entries from a real mixture of artists, including a number of young ones .... I sure hope the selection team sees what we can see in the way of artistic development up here, despite the ongoing poverty, no arts schools, materials, knowledge or access for practitioners and aspiring artists here”.

The Curator and selection team have begun the demanding task of identifying the 100 art-works that will make up the inaugural Spier Contemporary exhibition. Last month they travelled from Cape Town to selection points in Johannesburg, East London, Port Elizabeth, Umtata, Durban, Bloemfontein, Kimberley, Giyani, Potchefstroom and Barberton to make the selection.

The Spier Contemporary exhibition will be launched at the Spier Estate in Cape Town on December 12. It will also be hosted at the Johannesburg Art Gallery and the Durban Art Gallery in 2008.

The Spier Contemporary is a project of the Africa Centre, a NGO dedicated to supporting and celebrating the rich history and contemporary practice of African arts and culture. More information from Greta Wilson on 083 491 7236 or e-mail: greta@wam.co.za




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