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A knack for spying art in the everyday

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IOL ton may 24  NDR art 2..

Big Sisters by Julie Mayo

From dynamic to creative artwork, the ArtSPACE Gallery once again showcases some of Durban’s most talented artists. Currently on display is Dee Donaldson’s I Spy exhibition and Gerald Baise’s Bits and Pieces collection.

I Spy shows off Donaldson’s painting students’ work, which is produced at her studio in the ArtSPACE Durban studios, while Baise’s Bits and Pieces reflects the remarkable work of his sculptures and his fascination with wood.

In an interview with Tonight, Donaldson and Baise explained their love for art and how it has played a huge role in their life.

With a national higher diploma in fine art and numerous distinctions in painting, Donaldson has exhibited more work than she can count and has never been involved in anything but art.

Explaining what her exhibition represents, she said: “Last year I gave my students the task of taking five photographs every week. I was not looking for great photography, I was asking them to ‘be awake’, to look around them, to find interesting moments in their everyday lives.

“They were noticing things they had never noticed before and looking, with humour, intelligence and compassion, at the world around them.

“I wanted them to make art from that perspective – from what they knew and found. I made a selection of photographs for each of them and set them the task of making an artwork that began with those images. Thus the title I Spy.”

Donaldson said it’s both challenging and very rewarding teaching her students.

“They teach me a great deal, too. I think it is good when (an) individual has had the courage to challenge themselves technically, emotionally and intellectually. A work does not have to fulfil any particular criteria to be a good work,” she added.

According to the artist, letting her students struggle when they need to and not solving problems for them to ensure that they can make the breakthrough that is necessary – as well as watching their frustration – is difficult.

Having developed a general interest in art, Baise decided to learn more about it, so attended sculpture classes. The talented artist gets his ideas mostly from nature and dance forms.

“I have also paid homage in sculpture to artists such as Picasso, Chagall and Wopko Jensma, utilising their images to create a piece in wood. I will see a shape that somehow resonates… I will make a rough drawing followed by a clay marquette. Often as one works this changes and may morph into something somewhat different from the original idea. This is the fun of it,” he said.

With a little over two years to produce, Baise said he works almost exclusively with wood, both indigenous and non-indigenous, including old railway sleepers, using the old techniques of laminating, chiselling, rasping and sanding. He has also used wire and old electrical boxes to augment the pieces.

* The exhibition shows at ArtSPACE, Millar Road, just off Umgeni Road, and ends on Saturday at 2pm. For info, call Karen at 031 312 0793.


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