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HYLTON NEL EXHIBITION (article first published : 2001-07-31)

The Tatham Art Gallery’s busy schedule of this year comprises, inter alia, a retrospective exhibition of ceramic pottery by a South African artist, Hlton Nel, scheduled to run until September 16 in the Ceramics Room.

This exhibition, curated by King George VI Art Gallery, Port Elizabeth, will showcase Nel’s unconventional talent characterised by its tendency to delight, intrigue and provoke the viewers. His expertise has been recognised for many years by foreign private collectors. Like the proverbial prophet in his own country, his reception in South Africa has always been mixed. The appreciation of studio ceramics in this country has been confined to a discriminating but disappointingly small audience. In the case of Hylton Nel this audience was reduced still further by the fixed notion that studio pottery should be neutral, humbly utilitarian and “traditional” in form.

Ironically, nothing could be more traditional than Nel’s spontaneous, colourful and humourous ceramics which are informed by his wide knowledge of decorative arts and ceramics. The elements of Asian, European and English decorated ornaments and tableware in particular have been thoroughly assimilated and are wittily referred to in Nel’s work which is simultaneously childlike and audacious.

Entrance to the gallery is free and the exhibition will be on view from 10h00 to 18h00 every day except Monday.




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