Fine art exhibit pays tribute to SA's fine female artists
KwaZulu-Natal Midlands gallery hosts eclectic show to celebrate Women's Month
Ceramicist Trayci Tompkins has chosen an appropriate way to mark Women's Month - she has given over the front of her KwaZulu-Natal Midlands-based gallery, Zulu Lulu, to an eclectic display of artworks by South African women.
Based at the Piggly Wiggly, a shopping village on the Midlands Meander, it is the first time the gallery has held a women-centered exhibition.
"The idea came from the body of work I am doing at the moment which is inspired by strong women," said Tompkins. "We decided it was a great time for a collaboration of works, and it has been really well received."
The exhibition includes works by ceramic artist Carol Hayward-Fell and oils by painters Diane Erasmus and Michelle Offerman, as well as vessels by the award-winning Tompkins.
The gallery currently exhibits more than 30 female artists in the mediums of ceramics and fine art, representing 75% of works on display.
Hayward-Fell's high-fired ceramic horses, many embossed with tattoo-like patterns, stand proudly before the large impressionistic landscapes in oil from Erasmus, while conservationist Lindy Rodwell van Hasselt's delicate clay swallows soar around the room.
Tompkins's pieces - a range of "Africa Queen" legacy urns, vases and platters, many featuring portraits of African women - are a joyful celebration of the strength of women.
She was taught the skill of making traditional hand-coiled ukhamba pots by a North African potter and works with simple traditional tools to create her whimsical vessels.
"For me being a woman means my work is emotionally based and inspired by what is around me. I find influence in strong, beautiful, ethnic faces that surround me in my home province of KwaZulu-Natal, to which I apply a sort of Elizabethan period-drama moodiness.
"It's my theatrical background that inspires this combination."
The exhibition is being well received. "While we were setting up on Friday we had many women coming in and saying it was about time women artists were literally moved to the forefront," laughs Tompkins.
"It's interesting to see how things are changing. South Africa has an incredibly strong artistic culture that does not have to borrow from anywhere. While overseas ceramics are led by men, women here who saw themselves as part-time pottery hobbyists are starting to take themselves seriously as artists and make it their careers. For me, that is particularly important."
• The exhibition runs until August 31.
• This article was originally published in The Times.