Category Archives: Arts

Fest 2 – plastic bags, music, music, comedy

Afternoon of a Foehn – Fascinating piece performed with wind and plastic bags so life-like the audience couldn’t help but be enchanted

Gala concert – Excellent afternoon of music. Great performances from soloists, particularly Young Artist for Music, soprano Kelebogile Boikanyo.

Ping, sign and sting – Not always a school choir fan but this one pulled it off and CH2 were fascinating for their guitarwork. Interesting to see a guitar performance as part of a big show like this. Possibly more fun. Only crit would be: not entirely convinced by the staging that had the soprano section along the sides next to the audience – it was tough to catch the words of the other parts in some of the songs.

Money’s too tight to mention – SA’s comedians are growing up. Or at least using grown-up, real-life traumas to make funny shows. It works for Stuart Taylor in this piece.

Anticipation of Fest

The National Arts Festival – Fest – programme for 2012 is out. Yay! I love this time of year. Hours spent pouring over the programme, picking shows and figuring out how we’ll fit them all into just a week (all the time I can take off work). The big shows we’ll book in advance – the ballet (Giselle), the Gala Concert, some of the big music shows and a couple of lectures that are likely to sell out – but most we’ll leave until we’re there. Because there is nothing like popping into the booking office in the mornings to buy a whole handful of tickets for the day.

This year’s programme looks great. Lots of lovely music. More classical this year and it looks awesome. Standard Bank Young Artist for Dance is someone I’ve followed for years and whose work I love, Bailey Snyman. The ballet is Giselle, which I’ve never seen before. Richard Cock is doing a whole bunch of fun stuff, as well as the usual joy that is the Gala Concert with the KZN Philharmonic. There is a wide range of theatre and even more fun-sounding music like Arno Carstens, Sibongile Khumalo, Bala Brothers, Mango Groove.

And then there is the Fringe. More yay. A whole bunch of my favourite performers are back, some with new shows, some with pieces I adore and will very happily watch over and over gain. Of course, some people are missing – no Scott Sparrow, no Tim Redpath. But so many are. James Cairns is doing various pieces, including the stunning Sie Weiss Alles. Richard Antrobus and co are bringing back Hats. Kaput is back. Raiders is going Mayan. Boet ‘n Swaar return after a 5-year absence. Chris Chameleon. Comedy from Durban Comedy Invasion to Rob van Vuuren, Stuart Taylor, Siv Ngesi and Mark Palmer. So much yay!

Of course, some of the less than impressive lot are back. The stupid hypnotist who is quite possibly the most annoying person in the world. London Road. Miskien. But plenty of good stuff to drown them out. Programmes/Booking Kits are available from Standard Bank branches and selected Exclusive Books and Computicket branches from May but it’s already up on the website. Booking opens 7 May. Oh, and ArtBucks members get early booking. Don’t wait. It’s going to be amazing!

Arkansas Art Centre

I am torn. I am torn because I’m not sure what to do with the idea that here there is enough money here to build and maintain and pay for a spacious, elegant, modern art centre design specifically to display a great collection so that people can come, for free, and look at art. I’m torn because it seems to be normal here. Part of me wants to feel that it is frivolous and that there are better ways to spend the money. And then I spend a hour there and I feel the emotional response – the tug, the richness, the soul-nourishing rejuvenation – and I can’t want it to stop. All the intellectual self-righteousness is still valid. It shouldn’t be possible. Part of me feels guilty for enjoying it so much. But is such a pleasure.

The Arkansas Art Centre is just a few blocks away from my hotel. It is all of those things – large and spacious and elegant and modern and the collection is wonderfully varied. Some abstract, some modern, some realism. I didn’t have much time, but I took a break between proposal-writing that afternoon to go and see it. I needed a break and this was likely to be the only chance I would get.

It’s difficult to describe an art exhibition in words. The experience is emotional, rather than cerebral, at least for someone as untrained as I am. I  love walking around art galleries, though. As a colleague put it, spending time with the art. This art centre provides plenty of space and time to do that. There were other people in the galleries, on and off, but most of the time I was alone. It was peaceful and quiet. The ideal environment.

The collection is not small. So many distinctly different pieces. So many faces, too; some obvious, some hidden, some without emotion, some with so much emotion. Even many pieces that at first seemed to be of something else, after a while resolved into faces. I couldn’t live with all those faces, but they’re fascinating to visit.  I was particularly drawn to a piece not related to faces in any way – a pencil drawing called Male Back by an American artist. Another piece, called Quit, also caught my eye me. Several of the pieces held my attention for ages. The colours, the lights, the distance, the dimensions, the feelings.

As I walked back to the hotel, I tried to get my head around it all. I’ve not visited many galleries in South Africa. Those that are not selling art tend to charge high prices and are sometimes difficult to find. What does it mean? How is it different to live in a place where art is some sort of public good, just there for the looking at?