Creativity thriving in lockdown

Entries pour in for Javett-UP’s Covid-19 lockdown competition, proving that the ‘wonderful and inspiring spirit of creativity overcomes limitations and looks to the future'.

The creative, artistic muse is alive and well! Entries streamed in when the Javett Art Centre at the University of Pretoria (Javett-UP) invited South Africans to create lockdown art, proving that people are doing more than baking banana bread during Covid-19 social distancing.

Javett-UP offered four prizes, each valued at R900, to at-home artists in its giveaway competition that was run in April across its social media platforms. The sheer variety of work that was photographed and submitted attests to the fact that the “wonderful and inspiring spirit of creativity and expression transcends boundaries, overcomes limitations and looks to the future”, says Javett-UP director Christopher Till.

The winners each receive a complimentary, personalised guided tour of Javett-UP. The prizes will be valid as soon as Javett-UP opens after lockdown and may be used for up to three months after reopening.

Four winners were chosen from a huge variety of work in mediums as diverse as painting, paper sculpture and photography. They are Mari Brightmore (Wave of Covid, acrylic on stretched canvas); Vian Roos (Untitled, cardboard and thread); Molly Catherine Roberts (hausmayhem, paper craft); and Hardus Koekemoer (Last Bird, mixed media on found book cover).

The winners will be treated to a personalised tour of three Javett-UP exhibitions that will reopen once lockdown restrictions ease: 101 Collecting Conversations: Signature Works of a Century; the Javett Family Collection, All in a Day’s Eye; and the two Gold of Africa exhibitions (the Mapungubwe Collection and the Anglo Gold Barbier-Mueller Collection of West African gold).

“The 101 Collecting Conversations: Signature Works of a Century exhibition shows how artists have responded to their time and environment with extraordinary and innovative works of art: from video installations to a sculpture carved from dozens of bibles glued together; a mural that is 13m long and that was hidden from public view for decades; and a sculpture made from the steel of melted-down AK-47 assault rifles used in the struggle against apartheid,” says Till.

“Art gives us all a window into our collective human experiences, be they uplifting and affirming, or confrontational and divisive.”

101 Collecting Conversations: Signature Works of a Century uniquely brings the iconic works of South African artists of the last hundred years together under one roof. It’s highly unlikely these works will ever be exhibited together in this manner after the Javett-UP exhibition closes on 28 June, whether or not lockdown is over.

The collection, brought together from corporate and private collections around the world, features South African artists only and includes works by Irma Stern, JH Pierneef, Gerard Sekoto, William Kentridge, Robert Hodgins, Jackson Hlungwani, Sam Nhlengethwa, Maggie Laubser, Cecil Skotnes, Walter Battiss and Mary Sibande.

Until the Art Centre reopens, Javett-UP is inviting people to explore the gallery via its social media platforms, where it is conducting a work-by-work virtual stroll-through of 101 Collecting Conversations: Signature Works of a Century.

Javett-UP looks forward to opening its doors again when lockdown eases. “There is nothing, after all, quite like seeing an original artwork for oneself,” Till says. “We look forward to welcoming people back on the Javett-UP floor when lockdown ends.”