BY BILLY SUTER
THE Hilton Arts Festival, now in its 27th year and offering a wide variety of crafts, music, drama and other events in venues at Hilton College from September 13 to 15, will see a huge increase in the number of participating visual artists as well as a diversity of exhibitions.
Over the past few years the number of visual artists exhibiting at the festival has steadily increased. Conversations with the artists have strongly suggested to the festival management that the event is widely regarded as the best event of the year in KwaZulu-Natal for them, says festival director Sue Clarence.
Clarence adds that not only will there be 90 individual artists at the festival, but also top-notch exhibitions – the Absa Pierneef and van Wouw exhibition; and internationally acclaimed potter Andrew Walford’s Inspiration from Great Nature.
Strauss & Co, auctioneers, invite members of the public to bring their artworks to be valued.
“This wide variety of work means that the appeal to art lovers is wide ranging. It is possible for people to come and look and appreciate, but, very importantly, it offers the opportunity for people to expand their art collections. Prices range from the impulse-buy affordable to the more serious collectable: there is something to suit everyone’s pocket and personal taste,” says Clarence.
“Art will be exhibited in several areas. Be sure to see it all: in the Art Block, Memorial Hall, Grindrod Bank Theatre Foyer, Raymond Slater Library, Churchill and Bell Tower marquees. The Pierneef and van Wouw Exhibition can be found in the Absa Marquee, the Walford in the Normand Dunn Gallery and Strauss & Co in The History Room.”
Pierneef is widely considered to be one of the best of the old South African masters, and his work continues to serve as inspiration for future landscape painters. He is in excellent company with Van Vouw, who is known as the father of South African sculpture.
“They were pioneer artists who represented the top tier of South African art in its various forms, and their art continues to leave an incomparable imprint on the art world – making the decision to take a sample of their work to showcase at the Hilton Arts Festival a simple one. Our objectives are the same: to shine a spotlight on South Africa’s outstanding artistic talent,” says senior specialist art curator of Absa Art Gallery, Dr Paul Bayliss.
Bayliss will also give four public lectures: Pierneef and Van Wouw: Looking at a united narrative through the artwork of Pierneef and Van Wouw in an early South Africa, based on the works being exhibited at the festival in the Absa marquee.
His lecture will focus on the enduring love Pierneef had for the countryside, and the inspiration he took from it throughout his lifetime. It will also examine how Van Wouw was inspired by the rich tapestry of the people of South Africa and how they became his primary theme.
“Absa’s corporate collection, which is one of the largest in Africa as well as in the top 10 globally, confirms our ongoing commitment to preserving Africa’s abundant artistic heritage for posterity, and we believe in sharing this heritage with equally proud Africans through platforms like the Hilton Arts Festival,” says Bayliss.
“More than simply preserving the country and continent’s art legacy, though, Absa is committed to shining the spotlight on works of young African artists to bring their possibilities to life.”
This is why the winning artworks from the 2019 Absa L’Atelier competition will be featured alongside the work of the old masters in the Absa marquee. The Absa L’Atelier is one of the oldest art competitions for young artists. Now in its 34th year, Absa L’Atelier has built a strong legacy as a platform that allows the dynamic, inspiring and young visual artists of Africa to shine.
Absa buys artworks from these artists annually to add to its corporate collection. “The collection therefore contains works spanning several periods depicting the history of our country and this fits in with our overall objective to promote knowledge, understanding and practice of the visual arts, as well as to make the arts more accessible to the public,” concludes Dr Bayliss.
Entrance to the grounds of the festival is free and there is no charge for any of the exhibition areas.
The full Hilton Arts Festival programme will appear in KwaZulu-Natal copies of The Sunday Times on Sunday, August 11. Booking opens on August 12, and the programme will be live on the festival website from the morning of August 12.
The Festival is presented by Hilton College and tiso blackstar in association with Grindrod, Black Coffee, Extreme Events, DWR, Absa, Bidvest Car Rental, FNB, KZN Dept of Art & Culture, BASA, Southern Sun PMB, Stella Artois, Redlands Hotel, Martizburg Sun, Caxton, SA Artist, Loud Crowd Media and Sappi.