By Desiré Wright
HOEDSPRUIT – ‘There is so much creativity in Hoedspruit, but limited platforms where artists can display and sell their work. This is where the idea for iNyoka Gallery was born’ says Dianne Tipping-Woods who, along with Colleen Wall, Mark Blair, Jackie Hills, Anne Watt, Donald Strydom and Johann du Preez, is involved in conceptualising the new gallery. ‘We want iNyoka to be a home for local artists and photographers but also a place to have functions, events and workshops. iNyoka will be a working gallery for artists and will hopefully become the cultural heart of Hoedspruit’.
iNyoka Gallery, which will be located at Khamai Reptile Centre, will be run as a co-operative. ‘This is a flat structure where everyone has the same to gain or to lose. A group of similarly thinking people (artists) will work together to establish the gallery and then display and sell their art,’ says Mark Blair, local poet, artist and doctor.
iNyoka will accept any piece of art from a local artist that fits in with the gallery’s philosophy and meets their agreed standards. Each piece will go through a selection process before it is considered for display. iNyoka is not only for established artists – emerging artists are welcome too. The co-operative members agree that it is important for iNyoka to accommodate, in some way, artists who cannot afford the annual membership fee. ‘Although we anticipate that transport to iNyoka from remote corners of the area will be a bigger challenge for some of the artists’ says Mark, adding that each and every artist will have to work in the gallery on rotation.
Colleen Wall, known for her beautiful rugged furniture made from reclaimed pallet wood, says they have a list of 90 artists who are potential co-op members and ‘we’ve only just started!’ A number of the new co-op members met on 21 June to begin the renovations needed to establish the gallery, which will officially open later this year.
Art pieces will be displayed at iNyoka on a rotation basis and there will be themed exhibitions as well. To make sure that iNyoka is a ‘gallery for serious art’ as established local artist Anne Watt puts it; Anne herself, Mark Blair and Mike Frampton from Chalkhamhill Gallery will act as curators to help decide what will be selected for display at iNyoka.
‘Anne has nurtured the local artistic community over the last eight years by presenting weekly art classes. Half the artists on our list are Anne’s students!’ says Mark, adding that ‘Thursday nights art’ was one of the things he missed most about Hoedspruit when travelling abroad for a year.
Other than having a place to work on and sell their art, another draw card to join the iNyoka Gallery co-op is that it may be a stepping stone for local artists to bigger things – such as possible solo exhibitions in upmarket galleries.
Mark ended by saying that ‘of the many projects I’ve been involved in in Hoedspruit, this project has the most energy by far’. ‘Indeed, this (the idea of a gallery) has been smouldering for a long time and now the fire has been lit’ adds Anne.