URBANITY. This is the theme for this year’s KZNSA Gallery’s Members Exhibition. Every year, members of the gallery submit art works in keeping with a theme and it seems the turnout this year has been excellent. More than 300 Durban artists participated, filling all of the KZNSA galleries.

Tonight chatted to the curator of the KZNSA Gallery, Bren Brophy, to learn more about this year’s exhibition: “KZNSA is a public organisation, we’re not corporate. Once a year, we set a theme and this year’s theme is Urbanity. Basically, the exhibition is to encourage our members to make art and it’s a competition, in fact. If you are a paid member, you get to submit one piece of artwork. And it’s a huge group show of creators in Durban. So there’s a huge variety of work – sculptures, paintings and so on.

“With the theme of Urbanity, the gallery decided to choose a topic that has a ‘layering of meanings’ to encourage a broad interpretation of the theme.”

According to Brophy, “to become ‘urbane’ is to suggest the ‘cultured’ or ‘refined’.

“Urbanity also refers to cities and urban areas. Hence historically the meaning would suggest that civilisation as a kind of ‘elegance’ suggested a movement from the ‘rural’ to the ‘civilised’ or ‘city’. The exhibition committee and I came up with the idea. I marketed the theme and we liked it because it has an open ended meaning.”

A highlight of the exhibition was the announcement of the winners and the prize-giving. The prizes were given in memory of Joan Emmanuel, a long-standing member of the KZNSA and passionate supporter of the visual arts. Michele Silk, who specialises in mixed media on paper, won the first prize of R10 000. The second prize of R5 000 went to John Roome for his digital animation and Harry Lock walked away with the third prize of R2 500 for his photography. The Merit Award of R1 000 was awarded to Tony Buckland for his photograph, Roadworkers.

Asked about the turnout and response to the exhibition, Brophy said: “We’ve had an extraordinary turnout. KZNSA is a community project and it’s all about community. We understand that people just enjoy variety and there’s so much to look at and it’s so different. It’s wonderful to see how much the gallery has impacted on people. Even pupils from eight schools came to the gallery. So people see what’s possible in terms of photography and everything else. There’s a whole new world out there.”

In terms of the judging panel, Alec Botha, Witty Nyide and Nathi Gumede were on board.

Brophy explained the process of how they judged the art: “The judges started off by spending time in the gallery complex and looking at the art. We judge art, not the people. So they looked at the work for what it is, they don’t care who made it.”

According to the curator, people can expect to enjoy the enormous creativity out there.

“So many people are making art and it’s also an opportunity for people to purchase the art that is being showcased. It’s accessible to everyone,” he explained.

• The exhibition runs until Sunday at the KZNSA Gallery, 166 Bulwer Road in Glenwood, Durban. Call 031 277 1703.