CityLife Arts

Women artists presenting stories of our soil in this interdisciplinary exhibition at Melrose Gallery

By Edward Tsumele, CITYLIFE/ARTS Editor

This month is Women’s Month in South Africa, and accordingly, a number of events fitting in well with the dominant theme of the month, which is women, are expected to take place in the country in one form or another, Covid-19 or not Covid-19. , Some of them  are  quite cool. And yes, we are in the middle of a pandemic, but somehow events organisers are starting to realise that the state of Covid-19 and its complications and limiting factors when it comes to hosting arts events are not about to go away, and so adapting is one of those ways that are essential.

Marieke Kruger, Gates of Heaven , 1997, Charcoal and tea on fabriano Aquerelle

One such cool event is an exhibition currently running at the swanky Melrose Gallery, right in deep north of Johannesburg suburbia. To enjoy this exhibition which is truly interdisciplinary and features the works of several female artists, you do not have to go there physically, as you can view the show virtually in the comfort and safety of your home. You can do almost everything that you could do by physically going there, including viewing each piece of work on display and watching every performance that is on as part of Stories Our Soil, the title of this exhibition. You can also buy your choice of art piece favourite artist without physically leaving your home, and at any time of the day or night.

Napo Masheane

Gallery curator and the curator of Stories Our Soil Ruzy Rusike has assembled a meticulously chosen group of practising female artists, whose works range from paintings to performance installations.

“I am pleased to present Stories of Our Soil, an exhibition, performances, and conversations for Womxn’s Month. The month-long programme is presented in The Melrose Gallery (Johannesburg) and online.
This exhibition is an amalgamation of womxnhood, nature, our place within it, and how they have been exploited by our society. From an inner space, each of these artists have created raw portrayals of the problems that a colonial capitalist structured society have placed on our shoulders, but, importantly, each also conveys a message of hope on how to overcome these societal ills,” Rusike says.

Philiswa Lila, Mhlaba Uyahlaba, 2020, Oil on canvas

Participating artists in Stories of Our Soil  are Philiswa Lila, Aza Mansongi, Napo Masheane, Gladys Kalichini, Rirhandzu Makhunele, Alka Dass, Tracy Payne, Marieke Kruger, Dumamam, Tshepiso Mazibuko, Ann Mary Gollifer, UbumbanoUnity Collab and Olwethu De Vos.

And these artists are indeed artists of integrity with regards to their works and their art practice.

“Artists have the most incredible ability to reflect to society what a mirror would reveal if held to the same. What then does this work say about who we are having endured an exhilarating bridge from state sponsored separation to democracy, entrenched separation resulting from inspiring policies being held captive by an inept leadership, coronavirus separation entrenched firmly by our suspicious disposition towards science? Where I stand, I see a resilient people intent on documenting every single moment of our history and ensuring future generations have a monument of their roots reflected through sculptural work by womxn determined to rise as they lift and lift as they rise.

Ruzy Rusike’s brave curation of works by this ensemble of women in the arts is a love letter to society at a time when the assault on our senses by daily images of despair and ruin can only be countenanced by an incisive tome reflecting the many truths of who we are as womxn. I look forward to few reflecting with others as the Melrose Gallery once again leads in this necessary moment,” comments former TV show host and businesswoman, Carol Bouwer about the artists that have been chosen for this exhibition.

The group exhibition runs from 2 till 29 August 2021 and features artworks across different genres including painting, drawing, printing, sculpture, mixed media, performance, and video. Throughout the month of August certain events will be taking place at the gallery, with one event in particular, Napo Masheane’s installation of her upcoming show most definitely poised to attract a lot of interest. “Please join Napo at The Melrose Gallery, between 10am and 2pm on August 9,, with your bras to participate in the building of an installation piece that will be used on the set for her performances on the 21st and 22nd August. If you are unable to make this date, feel free to pop in between 9 and 5pm during the week and 9 to 4 on weekends until 20 August with bras to attach to the installation,” the gallery says. However people are requested to RSVP: craig@themelrosegallery.com

However you can view the exhibition  online via this link to the viewing room: Click here to enter the viewing room  
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