9 Sep 2019
The Fine Art Gallery in Swakopmund will host an entrancing exhibition called Echoes in the Dunes, comprised of three contemporary artists’ work from 6 September to 6 October 2019. The charcoal images, sculptures and pieces of jewelry on display tell ancient stories of the Bushmen, derived from the book Specimens of Bushmen Folklore.
“For us, these stories are whispers in the wind, echoes that sound across the dunes of the Kalahari where these diminutive peoples have spent their days”, Martina von Wenzel, owner of the Fine Art Gallery in Swakopmund says. “It is our hope that the magic of a mind unbridled by European convention and norms will open the doors to the viewer’s understanding of an African gift.”
Get to know the artists
Christine Lamberth is a South African graphic artist who works almost solely with charcoal on paper. Her images are bold and energetic, and draw the viewer into an Africa that she finds impelling. Christine has the unique ability to transform a piece of white paper into an evocative image that emerges from the paper with shape, line and form to enchant her viewer. She holds a bachelor’s degree in visual arts and is a fervent and passionate ambassador for conservation.
Florian Junge was born in Hamburg, Germany and moved to Mozambique with his family as a young boy. He is now based in South Africa. Florian is a sculptor who works with reclaimed materials. He acquired inspiration from his father, whom he describes as being a true and natural artist at heart. Like father like son. Florian sees art in almost anything. He transforms everyday articles into works of fine art by using predominantly reclaimed items, always expressing an array of emotions which he manages to successfully communicate to the onlooker.
Chris Snyman is a Namibian artist, sculptor and jeweler. With amazing versatility, Chris is able to persuasively articulate his ideas in diverse visual disciplines and with a wide range of materials and techniques. Originally trained as a goldsmith, Chris loves to make grand statements using vigorous marks in raw materials, sometimes on an industrial scale. Manipulating over-sized sections of mild steel and painting large, colorful canvasses in arbitrary colors, he enjoys the spontaneity and freedom of the big, sweeping brush stroke in evocative compositions. He tends to draw from individual experiences and personal perspectives, often incorporating autobiographical elements.
African tales inspire the artists
The German anthropologist Dr W.H.I. Bleek published the book Specimens of Bushmen Folklore in 1873 after travelling the African continent. The 16 stories that were selected for this exhibition tell fantastic tales of animals transforming themselves, falling to pieces and putting themselves back together again. His merging of animals and people doesn’t always make sense to a Western mind. However, there is a sense of wonder created by these stories that give us a small glimpse into the minds of unique and unknown beings.
“We have been inspired by these stories of long ago. They tell a story of an Africa that few of us have experienced,” Martina von Wenzel of the Fine Art Gallery says. “With our exhibition we hope to bring these stories to life so that more of Africa’s children will have the opportunity to share in this secret treasure trove.”
Telling the story behind the exhibition
In the dawning of the African continent there was a small group of people, who roamed the savannahs. Small in stature and hardened by the African landscape they moved swiftly from place to place, never settling in any one place for too long. They were in tune with the earth beneath their feet and they lived according to what it gave them.
The savagery of the African landscape taught these diminutive peoples to rely on each other and family bonds were strong. Their self-sufficient existence meant that very little was known about them and as the development of the world raced ahead, not even the European missionaries got to them to muddy the pool of their beliefs and myths.
Their daily existence was filled with hunting for food. As hunter-gatherers they did not cultivate any crops for food or kept animals that they could slaughter. As such they relied entirely on what they could find for sustenance. Nature was their provider. Each new day saw the men of the tribe out at dawn, their swift feet carrying them through burning sand in pursuit of some antelope that could feed the tribe. They quickly learnt where the dangers lurked, and they were attuned to the messages that the bush conveyed. The women and children would also join in this hunt for food, but their role was mostly to forage seeds, roots and fruits.
Once the scorching African sun had set, they would gather around a fire and cook what they had hunted and gathered for the day. Then they would celebrate their good fortunes by telling stories of fantastical animals and beings doing fantastical things and they would search for explanations of natural occurrences that they may have experienced.
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