First Thursdays set to give Durban's African Art Centre a boost

07 November 2017 - 12:32 By SHELLEY SEID
This wood carving of Mary is among the centre’s treasures.
This wood carving of Mary is among the centre’s treasures.
Image: Yanni Vosloo

Last month the African Art Centre relocated to Station Drive, the cutting-edge creative precinct off Umgeni Road.

During its 57 years of existence the centre has had three "homes", with each space allowing it to grow and take on an identify relevant to its time in history.

The African Art Centre is South Africa's longest surviving organisation involved in the development and promotion of African artists and crafters.

The latest move is opportune; it's a warm, fresh, generous space that sits alongside design-forward and unique outlets and restaurants.

It is the home of Durban's innovative new monthly event, First Thursdays, a platform for emerging and established creatives to showcase their talent.

"Central to achieving our vision and empowering our artists is the focus on developing, training and showcasing their art," says African Art Centre director Magdalene Reddy.

"We all love art for art's sake, but the love of art is not helping many of our struggling artists. Very strong on our agenda is the need for artists and crafters to gain economic benefit from their work, so that their passion and skill is not in vain."

Reddy says the secret to growing the market is the merger of quality and tradition with the contemporary.

"Trends in the creative industry move at a very fast pace and the centre needs to be at the forefront when it comes to setting standards. In this new environment we anticipate cutting-edge products that will reflect the influence of young and old, and the experienced and the aspiring."

The centre invites KZN artists to participate in a Celebratory Exhibition which will open on the first Thursday in December.

"Durban art lovers will be treated to a new exhibition every month, which will form part of Station Drive's First Thursdays activation. It's a new home and a new future," says Reddy.