|It Wasn't Me08 October to 02 November 2014
It wasn’t me by Niina Marjatta Turtola
Ministry of Truth and Typography
Partner and sponsor: Embassy of Finland in Namibia, Windhoek
Design and art must be based on a concept. Form is born from the concept. Concept can take various forms. Thinking and the process are extremely interesting and important. The appearance is a mirror of thinking, but not the ultimate goal or function.
Niina Marjatta Turtola started the Ministry of Truth and Typography in 2013 as she could not comprehend that there were no questioning activities in the art scene in Namibia, about arts nor the society. Newspapers and everyday life in Namibia are violent in different ways. Namibians seem to take if for granted and live with it better than her, a foreigner. She sees Namibia as a hypnotized society that rather denies the truth than wants to approach it.
Art generally in Namibia, seems to be craft and meant for tourists. Except for a few exceptions of course who are swimming against the stream, like her.
Niina Marjatta Turtola holds a Master’s Degree in Graphic design. In Namibia it means absolute nothing. Anyone is doing graphic design. Let them do it. This juxtaposition drove her towards practicing arts using the elements and principles of graphic design without a complaining client.
If there is not concept there can be no design or art. Her art describes the society as it has been printed in the society. It wasn’t me creates a representation of the Namibian society. It is a mirror of it. All the words used and expressed through typographic expression can be found in the printed matter in Namibia, from Namibians to Namibians. It wasn’t me creates an image of the Land of the Brave through eyes and expression of a Finn visiting Namibia for some few years.
One of the art works is called The Hypnotized Society. Niina wrote these words down on her notebook after visiting an exhibition of Bernard Tschumi, avant-garde theorist and architect, called Concept and notation in Paris, May 2014. Theoretical approach must take place. Mostly pure commercial work can be mere visual pollution, as the client does not speak any visual language, but relies on the gut feeling, which is mostly wrong. And the audience has to look at the big vomit of so-called design.
On the occasion of the appointment of the Permanent Secretary, Honorable Dr T.H. Icknee, to the Ministry of Truth and Typography, and on the occasion of the official launch of the It wasn’t me project the ministry invites people to the Omba Gallery to reflect upon the meaning of questioning of the society and what art and design is.
It wasn't me is a concept. It flourishes from the continuous acts of denial - of individuals - us all - in the society. The words It wasn’t me are a vernacular, a too common talk, therefore making people justify all types of irresponsible acts with these simple words.
As with all the art and design one looks at the concept, context and implementation. The MTT was formed in response to denial and manifested itself in a project called Love Matters in Art. The Minister capably oversaw this most successful project.
The Minister, a Spotted Eagle Own, and the PS Spotted Thick-knee are monogamous birds. Viva Monogamy!
Niina Marjatta Turtola, will pursue her PhD studies in researching the visual culture of Namibia. She is the Personal Assistant to the Minister of Truth and Typography, was born in Finland and is currently visiting Namibia. She holds a MA degree in graphic design and typography. She is a lecturer, researcher and between-lines-reader. Niina undertakes self-initiated, non-commercial conceptual design projects that question normative social constructs and generic arts and craft. To question is to think.
|“Spin-Offs”16 September to 5 October 2014
Omba Gallery featured Gerdis Stadtherr’s 14th solo exhibition.
The artist sums up her exhibition:
Each time I prepare a meal I am left with a bowl of peelings and scrapings, organic matter that goes to the compost heap. The randomly heaped–together colours, shapes and textures of these spin-offs of the meal intrigued me, making me have a closer look. I photographed and photoshopped them and then rendered them in pastel and oil on textured canvas. Fantasy played with the puzzle pieces, with outlines, colours and scale.
I have great respect for organic processes watching how one puzzle piece playfully fits another and develops a new identity.
Every October the huge Jacaranda tree in my garden produces an abundance of blossoms and subsequently seed pods. These seeds, with shapes varying from bizarre to elegant, have a leathery texture and, as an exercise, I started drawing heaped-up seed pods. These sketches, done in a school drawing pad, I pinned to a wall in my studio; endless variations of heaps, I could not get enough of them. Jacaranda blossoms look very different when heaped–up on top of each other. Colours, shadows enrich and influence each other, each blossom giving another tinge to its neighbour, specially if they are in different stages of decay. I produced loads of watercolours to explore these links.
So finally the logical thing for me to do was to combine blossoms and seeds into new compositions- since they stem from the same organic entity.
|A Dozen Shades of Colour14 August to 12 September 2014
The Omba Gallery featured a unique exhibition of Betsie van Rensburg’s paintings and ceramics. A Dozen Shades of Colour includes sabout 20 paintings and nearly 40 ceramic pieces.
The paintings portraed the Namibian wildlife, but focussing more on expressing the mood and atmosphere of the situation. Betsie works mostly in acrylic in bold strokes creating realistic-impressionistic images. A Dozen Shades of Colour is especially derived from the vibrant colours in her ceramics. Working mainly in stoneware which limits colours because of the high firing range (1 260˚C), she is excited at what she created for this exhibition.
Born in 1950 and grew up in Hartswater in RSA, Betsie’s ceramics hobby began way back in 1985 in Bloemfontein. In 1993 she returned to Namibia with her Namibian born husband. She attended pottery workshops held by the Potters’ Association of Namibia, but her hobby only got more direction after moving to Swakopmund in 2004 where she started Guesthouse Fischreiher. It was also then that she attended painting classes and discovered a love for this art form. The inspiration she derived from the untouched Namibian environment played a role in the realisation of her longstanding dream to change her hobby into her work.
Betsie started to take part in group exhibitions in Swakopmund and Windhoek. She also was an exhibiter at the Omaruru Artist Trail the past two years. Betsie is now a full time ceramist and painter, working part time in their guesthouse in Swakopmund.
This self-taught artist says: ‘I indulge with my hands and emotions into wet clay, throwing on the wheel, building with slabs, decorating in a wide variety of ways, building up to the excitement of opening the kiln at the end of the whole long process. It is a lonely road, because you work on your own, but I don’t mind, because the enjoyment when someone else looks at my work, touches it and smiles inwardly on it, is my optimal reward. I can talk endlessly about ceramics, what and how I do what.’
About her paintings, she says: ‘My paintings are a different story! I am much more ‘touchy’ about them, because each one takes something of my soul with them. My favourite colour is the evening light and dust created by animals and people. I grew up on a small farm and until this day the evening light, voices of animals and people going to their shelters, smelling the evening fires, hearing the dogs and birds calling before night fall, are still very special to me. ’
The exhibition is part of the Bank Windhoek Arts Festival.
|Christmas in July 201411 July to 10 August 2014
For the third year in a row, the I’Khoba Group hosted their annual Christmas in July exhibition. Visitors where greeted by Namibian-styled Christmas decorations and gift ideas made by local artists using a variety of materials including beadwork, up-cycled tin and embroidery.
This year’s theme focused on ‘colourful and delightful icons’. Items exhibited at the Omba Gallery included beadwork lizards, butterflies, birds, zebras, oryx and kudu styled as Christmas decorations, as well as tablecloths, cushion covers, wall décor and even some special Christmas tree deocrations.
|Between the Lines30 June to 9 July 2014
In 2011, the Fine Ounce Goldsmiths’ Collective was established in Cape Town, South Africa, to promote the art of handmade contemporary jewellery. The Collectives strength lies in the combined skill, creative energy and diverse area of specialisation of each individual jewellery maker. They hope to raise awareness of the multi-faceted process of designing, creating and manufacturing unique jewellery and to elevate the status of individually hand-crafted pieces over mass-produced goods. The Fine Ounce Goldsmiths’ Collective would like to encourage and inspire people to enhance their understanding and appreciation of this versatile art form.
Eight goldsmiths from southern Africa form the core of the collective, including two Namibian born goldsmiths. The goldsmiths are:
|Kabo Crafts 9 June to 20 June 2014
When confronted by the high quantity of imported mainstream crafts dominating the Namibian tourism market, Katrin Bockmühl decided that it was time to go on a hunt for some local talent. She did not have to search for long and in 2004 Kabo Crafts was born: a multifunctional business and educational venture that takes artists through the drill of product development, training and sales.
The artists involved come from all walks of life. Memory and Epafras Haihambo who left their home in the North to take their young family to the capital are now key producers of textile and paper-maché items in Kabo Crafts. Absalom, the “Ketty-Man”, who sells his wooden weapons on the streets of Windhoek repurposed their shape to become colourful nose-hooks. Meme Justine, who used to be a farm employee working on Lucerne-fields is now the creator of intricate bead designs; as well as many more creative minds who are now part of the constructive forces of Kabo Crafts.
“Key factors for product development are innovation, recycling and designs that are not only aesthetically pleasing, but purposeful” explains Katrin Bockmühl. The result is a product line that is unique and eco-friendly, such as the striking lamp shades, candle holders and ashtrays made of recycled cans or the elegant bowls and paper bags made of old Newspapers. Primarily, however, the products of Kabo Crafts seem to embrace the character of Namibia, both in its modern aspects, as well as its rich heritage, as can be seen in the trendy aprons with prints of local trees, book ends of Namibian animals or even the fridge magnets of Mopane leaves.
|Five of a Kind +1 16 April to 30 April 2014
The “five of a kind” exibition, is a bi-annual jewellery group exhibition.
Five of a kind + 1 basically consist of the same core group since our first “five of a kind” exhibition in 2011. This unique group exhibition showes the work of five Namibian Goldsmiths and Jewellery designers and a different guest designer joining the group at every “five of a kind” exhibition, thus the add-on “ +1” behind the title.
The six designers all made an effort to use new materials and unique design concepts. Even the presentation of the jewellery in the Gallery was unique. Every designer presented there precious pieces on different backgrounds, from a rustic background to artistically created canvases. It was an exhibition to look forward to, especially since the last one was two years ago.
Our Guest designer this year was Elze Eigelaar who grew up in a small town in the Karoo, Graaff-Reinet, South Africa. She graduated at the end of 2011 with a degree in BA Jewellery Design and Metal technique in Stellenbosch, South Africa. In 2010 she spent a semester studying at the Hochschule für Gestaltung in Pforzheim, Germany. After attending many different workshops to acquire knowledge of many old techniques, learning from different cultures and working in many well known studios she then started her own business, ‘Elze Designer Jewellery” in 2013. “ I work with semi-precious stones, pearls, silver, copper, brass and gold. I often use thread, string and found objects in my work. I think a jewellery piece can tell a unique story on different wearers.”
For Attila Giersch the possibilities and limits of stainless steel in combination with silver, gold and big Namibian precious stones is the challenging topic. Big, flashy and elegant.
Heike Lukaschik is exploring the field of colour. She uses different materials / mediums such as paint, silicone and unusual combinations of coral, stones and pearls. Colour accents are used thoughtfully to emphasize or contrast. Different textile structures are applied and transferred to silver and aluminium to add subtle textures and details to the jewellery. Delicate, detailed and delightful.
Sylvia von Kuehne is a passionate artist, scene painter for different occasions and even creates murals on request. She thinks the most important ingredients in every work of art are flexibility, creativity and originality. At this exhibition she concentrated mainly on ear jewellery and displays them on paintings depicting beautiful façades of ladies.
Since two years now Frieda Luhl is intensively working with the riveting technique (Riveting means putting together materials without the use of heat and solder) which she has shown at the “RIVETING” exhibition in November 2013 in the Omba Gallery. For the FIVE OF A KIND + 1 she showed more of her favourite technique, riveting, including other techniques like printing patterns onto metal, which is then oxidised to bring out the image.
Stefan Dietz looks at the diverse nature and all its precious materials such as Diamonds, precious stones, shell, Ivory etc. He is depicting the rough contrasting surfaces of the Namibian landscapes in his jewellery, clearly showing the bold colures of our sunsets as well. ” I combined these genuine Namibian materials with precious metals to present the whole precious Namibia in each of my jewellery pieces”
25 March to 12 April 2014
There are those who believe that some people are ‘born’ with the ability and spatial intelligence to draw and paint well, while some are not. When twenty-nine year-old, Witlock Kamatoto paints the story of his background, the aforementioned belief instantly jumps to mind.
Kamatoto, a husband and father born and bred in Otjiwarongo, central-northern Namibia, disclosed that as a toddler and young boy, when out looking for him, his parents frequently found him drawing and scribbling in the sand with a dusty finger. In adolescence, at school, his ability to draw well was recognised and identified by a teacher, who encouraged him to draw until he was considered the best artist at school. He never considered what he was doing as ‘art’ and still does not; to him, the ability to draw and paint well are like any other skills to form the basis of a chosen career.
Kamatoto later attended the Otjiwarongo Arts & Performance Centre, as a student of the visual arts. He studied drawing and painting under Martin Scott and graduated in 2011. Kamatoto now specialises in oil painting on hardboard, depicting Namibian landscapes, wildlife, portraits and is exceptionally good at murals.
Kamatoto is, for the moment, an artist for commission work and has an impressive list of satisfied Namibian clients in his portfolio, including private farms and tourist lodges. His keen eye, deft hand, innate feeling for balance and proportion, combined with an almost effortless ability to recreate what he observes in realistic style, sans stylisation, makes him a valuable Namibian asset, especially for commissioned public works of art.
|100th of a second21 February to 19 March 2014
John Liebenberg and Tony Figueira - every one hundredth of a second - a photographic exhibition of images taken during the late eighties and early nineties.
In this exhibition orchestrated by Omba Gallery's Shareen Thude and sponsored by the National Arts Council of Namibia (NACN), photographers John Liebenberg and Tony Figueira create, through a selection of 20 images each, a personal account of some special photographic moments of events in Namibia, Angola and South Africa. The images cover a wide variety of topics with emphasis on the liberation struggle in Namibia that led to independence on 21 March 1990.
John Liebenberg was introduced to Namibia in 1976 when, together with his fellow conscripts, was sent to Ondangwa Air-force base near the border with Angola. He later returned to Namibia and in 1985 was appointed photographer for the Namibian newspaper, then a brand new newspaper challenging the apartheid status quo and promoting the independence of Namibia. Following independence his family moved to Johannesburg, from where he covered the Angolan civil war as freelancer for Reuters. He later joined Media 24 magazines mostly working for Drum. He is an established news photographer whose work has been exhibited in Africa and Europe. His Namibian photographic collection documenting Swapo’s war of Liberation and the South African occupation is widely used by historians, researchers and film makers.
After graduating from Rhodes University, Angolan-born Tony Figueira's passion for documentary photography and photojournalism saw him cover a wide variety of themes involving people and processes. The liberation struggle and Namibia's road to independence became a key focus and during the implementation of United Nations Resolution 435, Tony was commissioned by the United Nations to document the process. Freelance journalism and photography led to stringing for several local and international media organisations including Voice of America (VOA), Radio TSF (Lisbon), Gemini Agency (London), The Rand Daily Mail and the Weekly Mail (Johannesburg).
Throughout the years, Tony has exhibited widely in Namibia and internationally. In 2004 he started Studio 77, a commercial photographic, printing and design studio in Windhoek.
This exhibition, every one hundredth of a second, is about special moments in both the photographers' lives, and in the role that photography played in documenting a process that affected three countries. In addition the exhibition is about the essence of photography, and in particular film photography as viewed from, and in contrast to, today's digital world. It is a stark reminder of what it was like to photograph without digital immediacy and relying only on light meters and light judgements in situations often insecure, challenging or uncertain. Photography is always around us, and every one hundredth of a second, there is a photographic moment, an opportunity to capture the world we live in. For both photographers this exhibition is a great way to go back in time, pick out a handful of images and collaborate in a small, but uniquely powerful display of black and white photography about the world we lived in and should never forget.
|New Beginnings Art ExhibitionFebruary 2014
Graduates of the College of the Arts get together once a year in February to exhibit their new work. This was the 6th New Beginnings Exhibition hosted by the Omba Art Gallery at the Namibia Craft Centre.