Nieu-Bethesda Tapestry to hang in British Museum
30th August 2016
NIEU-BETHESDA TAPESTRY TO HANG IN BRITISH MUSEUM!
The Bethesda Art Centre can be proud in that one of their tapestries, namely “The Creation of the Sun” has been selected to hang in the British Museum’s exhibition exploring “100 000 Years of South African Art.”
Jeni Couzyn, South African poet, artistic director and founder of the Bethesda Art Centre, directed the creation of the tapestry, a collaborative piece, made by /Xam bushmen, descendants of South Africa’s first people, who live in Nieu-Bethesda and work and create at the Art Centre. The magnitude of this piece being included in the exhibition can be fully appreciated in that the exhibition also includes artworks such as the world famous 800-year old Golden Rhino of Mapungubwe as well as pieces by Lionel Davis and Mary Sibande.
John Giblin, head of the British Museum’s African section has termed these artworks, “South Africa’s Crown Jewels”, and it is a feather in the cap of the Bethesda Art Centre that their work is included in such a prestigious and valuable collection. This collection also includes a pearl necklace dated back 77 000 years that was discovered in Blombos cave in the Western Cape, making South Africa one of the oldest “Symbolic” cultures in the world with an artistic tradition “stretching back much further than what was happening in Britain,” says Giblin. The key concept of the exhibition is that “South Africa’s art heritage is the art heritage of many, many different peoples” – whether the first people, San Bushmen, Europeans or Asians from the 17th century.
The exhibition is divided into sections that will also include the influence of European and Asian settlers, as well as resistance art from the Apartheid era. Also included in the exhibition is work by contemporary African artists which the museum has been collecting for the past 20 years – the 2- metre wide tapestry from Nieu-Bethesda being part of this.
For Bethesda Art Centre administrator and artist, Gerald Mei, and lead artist, Sandra Swiers, the collection of tapestries has offered them opportunities that have taken them far beyond the borders of Nieu-Bethesda. They recently returned from a 3-week trip to the United Kingdom where they were involved exhibition of quilts at the John Curtis Gallery in Manchester. The quilts have also been exhibited at the Iziko National gallery in Perth (see photograph). When back in quiet Bethesda, Gerald and Sandra continue with their work at the Art Centre – be it creating artworks or managing the popular Tower Accommodation and Restaurant. This little village can be extremely proud of the achievements of the Bethesda Art Centre.
Image in article,Gerald Mei, Jeni Couzyn and Sandra Swiers with “The Creation of the Sun” in Perth©