Windhoek-The ninth exhibition of the ‘New Beginnings’ by graduates of the College of the Arts (COTA) opened last Thursday at the National Art Gallery of Namibia (NAGN).
With this exhibition, COTA is celebrating another year of teaching, learning, thinking and making art. The exhibition is part of the course of the diploma qualification students in Visual Art at COTA. The course has been running for 15 years and is fully accredited by the National Qualifications Authority.
According to the COTA’s Visual Art head of department Nicky Marais, the programme teaches a variety of art and craft skills and in the third year of studies students work towards a thematically coherent body of work.
Each year, ‘New Beginnings’ has a different feel, depending on the material and conceptual choices of the final year students. “Our students come from all corners of Namibia, often from rural areas where the concerns and hardships of their families are sometimes an inspiration for their work,” says Marais.
On this exhibition, there are works by Mathews Alfeus featuring fighting dog sculpture made from reclaimed metals, a metaphor for the disengagement and aggression he finds within his community. Kambezunda Ngavee was inspired by the traumatic history of his Herero ancestors and worked these issues into his stone carvings. Davido Indongo went on a personal journey of discovery into his Ondonga culture and interviewed older family members about the use of ‘totems’ in their interactions.
Julien Brandt went on a spiritual journey of her own, making art in order to achieve an inner healing. Her works depict a series of women’s faces, using a variety of materials and placing great emphasis on the worked background to each image. Her paintings are essentially a personal reflection. In the Visual Art Department, students are also encouraged to learn different craft skills, and Samantha Shaalulange and Hilde Hangula selected textile design as their major subject. Shaalulange used the indigenous aloe vera as her focus and created a number of designs for cushion covers using this motif, while Hangula explored different traditional musical instruments as images in her textiles. Tweyapewa Mbendeka used a soldering iron to work into pieces of Perspex to create a light rendition of the heavy memories of war.
Iyaloo Hatutale and Victor Mubiana selected to make a series of craft jewellery pieces using recycled and natural materials. Victor concentrated on the creative possibilities of Makalani pods, sawing them into different shapes and combining them with contrasting materials. Iyaloo took as her theme the ‘Oshosholo’ plant that has such bright yellow flowers in the first rain of the season but ends its life as the sharp ‘diviltjie’ thorn, which makes walking barefoot outside impossible.
Kevan Kakori’s concern with the scourge of poaching in Southern Africa was the starting point for his series of prints, which use a comic approach as a novel way of attracting attention to this problem. Erastus Ndongo selected abstract painting as his focus for the year and used combinations of Gesso and sand to make his highly textured wall pieces. Immanuel Igonda’s favourite time of day is dusk, when “boys and their cattle return home in the dust and the last rays of the sun”. He spent the year making small works and capturing this feeling in paint.