Community art centres - South Africa

 

Community art centres are being established through out South Africa. Black artists and art students were historically prevented from attending the main stream arts education establishments in South Africa and until recently it was difficult to access training, good quality materials, workspace as well as opportunities to get ones work exhibited and promoted. This situation led to the establishment of community art centres throughout South Africa.

Examples of community art centres are Polly Street Art Centre, which provided a creative haven for artists such as Ezrom Legae and Durant Sihlali in the 1950's and 1960's. This community art centre grew into the Mofolo Art Centre in Soweto. The Katlehong Art Centre provided East Rand artists with facilities and inspiration during the 1970's and 1980's and exposed people to a variety of media and became well known for its ceramic work. This community art centre transformed into VACA or the Visual Arts and Crafts Academy which now focuses on upgrading secondary school leavers so that they can go on to study at the Universities and Technikons.

Rorkes Drift in rural Kwazulu Natal nurtured many of today's top black artists, among them Sam Nhlengethwa and Pat Mautloa. Started by Swedish art graduates a range of skills was taught from weaving to printmaking and ceramics, these techniques were used to explore issues around exploitation and apartheid.

The Johannesburg Art Foundation is another example of a community art centre that nurtured some of today's top artists such as Tony Nkotsi and William Kentridge. In Cape Town the Community Arts Project played an important role during the struggle and was perhaps the community art centre most active in using print as a way of social transformation with the printing of posters and tee shirts for political groups fighting apartheid.

The Artists Proof studio in Newtown, Johannesburg was set up in the early 1990's by Kim Berman and Nhlanhla Xaba as a community art centre that focuses on printmaking. The studio has provided facilities, training and opportunities to many hundreds of artists over the years and continues to do so. This work proves that there is still a very real need for the community art centre in South Africa and particularly in the arena of printmaking.

The Artists' Press has a long standing relationship with the Artists' Proof Studio and prior to moving to Mpumalanga had a mini-internship programme for students at the Artists Proof Studio who were interested in learning lithography. In Botswana the Kuru Art Project is a community art centre that has worked on a number of publishing and exchange projects with The Artists' Press. The Artists' Press cooperated with the Kuru Art Project - a community art centre in Southern Africa

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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